Effective Listening and Note-taking
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You can think about four times FASTER than a lecturer can speak. Effective LISTENING requires the expenditure of energy; to compensate for the rate of presentation, you have to actively intend to listen. The key is active not passive; get involved in the process. NOTETAKING is one way to enhance listening, and using a systematic approach to the taking and reviewing of your notes can add immeasurably to your understanding and remembering of the content of lectures.
Develop a mind-set geared toward listening.
Test yourself over the previous lecture while waiting for the next one to begin.
Read assigned material (SQ3R) or at least S (skim) and Q (question) to acquaint yourself with main ideas, new terms, etc.
Do what you can to improve physical and mental alertness (fatigue, hunger, time of day, where you sit in the classroom, all affect motivation).
Choose notebooks that will enhance your systematic notetaking: a separate notebook with full-sized pages is recommended for each course. You might wish to mark off the pages in a particular format such as that of the Cornell System of Notetaking.
INTEND TO LISTEN
During Class: SIT CLOSE TO SPEAKER
Listen for the structure and information in the lecture. Use signal words such as:
“Today I want to cover...” Introduction and/or Title
“Four points...” “Three causes...” Organizational cues
“Next I want to discuss...” Change of topic
“I emphasize...” “To repeat...” Cues regarding importance
Pay attention to the speaker for verbal (louder or higher pitched inflections) and body language cues of what’s important.
Be consistent in your use of form, abbreviations, etc. (key your abbreviations).
Make a conscious effort to concentrate on what the speaker is saying. Don’t get
o a speaker’s appearance or mannerisms.
o your emotional reaction to the subject matter.
Label important points and organizational clues: main points, examples.
When possible, translate the lecture into your own words, but if you can’t, don’t let it
worry you into inattention!
Ask questions if you don’t understand.
Instead of closing your notebook early and getting ready to leave, listen carefully to information given toward the end of class; summary statements may be of particular value in highlighting main points, there may be possible quiz questions, etc.
After Class: SAME DAY AS LECTURE (Reduce, Recite, Reflect)
Clear up any questions raised by the lecture by asking either the teacher or classmates.
Fill in missing points or misunderstood terms from text or other sources.
Edit your notes, labeling main points, adding recall clues and questions to be answered. Key points in the notes can be highlighted with different colors of ink.
Make note of your ideas and reflections, keeping them separate from those of the speaker.
A checklist for editing your notes:
- Did you state the main topic of the lecture?
- Are all words intelligible?
- Are symbols and abbreviations keyed?
- Is the structure clear? If not, you may need to rewrite.
- Did you write cue words in the left margin for self-testing?
- Did you miss any points? You may need to compare notes with a classmate.
Review your notes: glance at your recall clues and see how much you can remember before rereading the notes.
Look for the emergence of themes, main concepts, methods of presentation over the course of several lectures.
Make up and answer possible test questions.
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