In a previous post I have discussed the mapping and outline note taking methods. The Cornell note taking method is another method that is popular among college students. It is officially called the Cornell System which was designed by Walter Pauk at Cornell University.
In order to take full advantage of this system, you need to have a large loose leaf notebook, thereby allowing you to insert handouts from class, remove, and rearrange your notes for study purposes.
The unique feature of this note taking method is the layout of the margins on the page. You’ll need to create a 2.5 to 3 inch margin on the left side of the page, and a 2 or so inch margin at the bottom of the page. The loose leaf piece of notebook paper should look like the diagram below.
- Recall Area - is the vertical space on the left side of the margin. This column is not for writing notes, but strictly for review purposes. When you go through the process of reviewing your notes, you should write questions you could ask yourself in this area pertaining to the notes. By asking yourself questions related to the notes, and answering them, you will understand and retain the information from the notes.
- Note Taking Area - this is the largest space on your notebook paper and is used for taking notes. In this area you will write what your professor writes on the board, or says in lecture. It is important not to write everything down verbatim, but enough keywords and information that you could understand later during your review. Furthermore, you should learn how to short hand and abbreviate as much as possible.
- Summary Area - this is the area at the bottom of your notebook page. In this area you will summarize in a couple of sentences the information presented in your notes. It’s basically a quick review you could read to understand the broad meaning of the notes.
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This entry I’m going to share my favorite note taking systems. Numerous systems exist for note taking, and after trying them all, I believe the following techniques simplify information and makes it easy to remember.
The systems are called the Mapping Method and the Outlining Method.
The Mapping is a technique that uses comprehension and concentration skills which become a note taking form which relates each fact or idea to every other fact or idea. Mapping is basically a graphic representation of the content of a lecture. It is a method that maximizes active participation, affords immediate knowledge as to its understanding, and emphasizes critical thinking. This format helps you to visually track your lecture regardless of conditions. Not a whole lot of thinking is needed and relationships are visually seen.
On hand written paper mapping would look something like this.
However, since I have messy handwriting, I like to revise the mapping method to be more keyboard friendly in order to make study guides. Which turns your mapping method into the outlining method. I highly recommend typing out your hand written notes and printing them for study sessions.
The outlining method is basically listening and then writing in the points in an organized pattern based on space indention. Place major points farthest to the left. Indent each more specific point to the right. Levels of importance will be indicated by distance away from the major point. Indention can be as simple as or as complex as labeling the indentations with numbers or bullet points. Markings are not necessary as space relationships will indicate the major/minor points. This system is very well-organized if done right. Outlining records content as well as relationships. However, it requires more thought in class for accurate organization.
The outline technique of the above mapping method picture would look like this.
Note: everything in red is not typed out during the study guide creation. I am just trying to show you how to relate the points.
- Study skills (main point)
- Resources (resources are described by study skills)
- Trace tip sheets (are a part of resources)
- Study skills workshops (are a part of resources)
- Motivated by
- Results (results are motivated by study skills)
- Increased comprehension (part of results)
- Higher marks (part of results)
- Time management strategies (included in study skills)
- Note taking (included in study skills)
- Cognitive strategies (included in study skills)
Concept mapping *related to reorganizing ideas (included in study skills)
- Reorganizing ideas (comes from cognitive strategies)
By reorganizing the visual mapping system from handwritten notes into electronic form of the outline method, you will force yourself to understand the concepts of the lecture, and learn two note taking methods. If you are taking notes on your laptop then go ahead and start off with the outlining method from the get go.
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