If you are a university or college student, you probably make notes when you are attending classes or reading your text books. Upon this you probably review the notes you made when you are preparing for exams, which enables you study better.
You may have wondered if there a right way or a wrong way in taking notes. Does one method of note-taking works better than another?
There is probably no one way that works best for all people in all situations, since everyone’s brain is unique sequence of connections.
The main problem with taking notes the traditional way is that this is a very passive process and it simply does not get the brain very involved in interacting with the information. If you can get your brain to get more actively involved in organizing the new material, you will definitely remember better.
If you are strong in visual learning, you can benefit from making notes that include lots of graphs and drawings, underlying and even cartoons! If you are very high in auditory skills and weak in the visual area, you will do better by tape-recording the notes you need to remember.
The following technique in note-taking is particularly effective for people who are highly visual type. This method of making notes is sometimes called “mind-mapping” or making a “learning map”. It takes some practice to use mind-mapping effectively, but most people who use it find they can retain and remember far more information with a lot less work.
The essence of the learning-map (also known as “memory-map”, or “mind-map”) technique is pretty much simple. You will need a plain piece of paper, one pen, or if you like colors a variety of colors pens.
You will be trying to fill the entire page with your notes, therefore it is important to keep the size of your writing quite small. With practice you should be able to judge what size of writing will work effectively for you.
As you listen to the lecturer, or read the lecture you are studying, decide what you think the central theme is.
Once you have decided on the central theme, jot down the words in the center of the page, and draw a circle around the main theme. Do not try to write down a sentence or a paragraph, just get down enough of the key words that will bring the ideas back into you mind.
Keep listening or reading, waiting for the first main sub-theme.
When you come across the first major sub-theme, pick a spot on the page to jot down a few key words that sum up the sub-theme. Then, draw a circle around the sub-theme words, and then join your sub-theme circle to the main theme circle with a line.
Each time you come across a new major sub-theme, write down a couple of key words to summarize the new idea, and draw a circle around those words. Then draw a line to join the sub-theme circle to the main idea circle in the center of the page. Eventually, you will have a circle in the center with several spokes expanding from it.
The lines or spokes do not have to be straight, and they can be of any length required. The “circles” do not have to be circles, they can be squares, triangles, or oval shapes if you prefer. You can use different colors to help you organize the ideas better.
As the speaker or writer present the ideas, you will find that some of the ideas being presented are additional supporting details that clarify or illustrate one of the sub-themes you have already identified. In this case you will write these “sub-sub-themes” down using just a few words, enclose them in a circle or squiggle, and link them to their sub-theme with a line.
Your sub-theme circles may have many spokes radiating from them, as the author or lecturer continues to present his ideas. In this manner you will be able to take in the dominant themes of the talk and the underlying organizational structure of the ideas.
If you happen to have any ideas of your own, while you are reading or listening to the lecture, jot them down. This shows you have your brain actively interacting with the material.
When you make a mind map or a learning map of your notes, you create a visual document that differs from the traditional methods of making notes for class.
People who learn well visually, will benefit from the way that learning maps clearly show the relationships between main themes, sub-themes and supporting facts and ideas.
Try this method for yourself and see if this is the note-taking technique that works best for you! This both applies for e-learning or traditional learning. Mind maps are excellent tool in remembering the lectures the best possible way. The knowledge gained in this manner will stay longer in your memory in comparison to the knowledge gained in learning my heart.
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