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The earlier lectures on your course can provide a good opportunity to help students develop more effective, efficient and purposeful approaches to note-making. Students might be tempted to try and write down every word (a strategy that can easily lead them to disengage from the actual content and ideas) or alternatively they might resort to making few or no notes. The following activities are designed to help structure students’ note-making practices and to help them to develop good and effective note-making habits.
Working with templates
One way of helping to cultivate more effective note-making is to partially structure the process for students by providing them with templates to use and experiment with (see the ‘Tools and resources for supporting students’ independent study practices’ section of the Transitions Toolkit for sample templates to use and adapt). At different points in the lecture, ask students to review and summarise what they have noted so far.
At specific points in the lecture (e.g. at the mid-way point and then just before the end) task students with providing brief summaries of their notes so far. It can help to be quite prescriptive about this – for example, by telling students they have to produce no more than three key bullet points or no more than two sentences. You can also vary the task, switching between factual summaries and more critical reflections on key questions. You can then invite students to share and compare their summaries in pairs or smaller groups.
Depending on time available and feasibility, it can be helpful to provide students with hand-outs of lecture content structured to also facilitate note making. Some examples of how this might work include:
• Gaps for students to fill in with key details (e.g. facts, dates, names of theorists, diagram labels)
• Discussion exercises at key stages (e.g. ‘write down three possible responses to the question of…’; ‘How does this set of ideas compare with the ideas we explored in last week’s lecture?’)
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