Do People Actually Read The Notes They Take In Class?

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  • #1
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I am curious to know whether or not people on this forum read/review their notes taken in lecture? I have never reviewed notes taken in class. I do quite well in my classes. I do ask questions, participate in lecture, and always go to office hours. I do write lectures notes, but it seems that it is pointless for me. I always read a section or two before every class meeting. I attempted to solve problems. When I go to lecture, most of the questions I had while reading are answered. I do not use solutions manuals, so I spend a lot of time on things before they are demonstrated in class. I also use at least two books for every course.

However, I do make my own notes for books I am self learning from. Often times, I write in my books.

Am I the only one here that finds taking notes in lecture pointless?
 

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  • #2
Orodruin
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Taking notes is up to personal preference and different people will learn by doing different things. Personally, I never took notes during lectures. I found that it distracted me from anticipating the trail of thought, which is more important for me.

I tried taking notes when I started university, but I never went back to them and it did not help me understand better. If you are like me, simply do not take notes. It is an individual preference and you have to find the method that helps you learn better.
 
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  • #3
symbolipoint
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Yes, take notes. Almost always.
 
  • #4
Orodruin
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Yes, take notes. Almost always.
This is quite a blanket statement. Why should he, or anyone else, take notes if it does not help their learning?
 
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  • #5
symbolipoint
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This is quite a blanket statement. Why should he, or anyone else, take notes if it does not help their learning?
You think I lied? I rely heavily on taking notes. I rely heavily on textbooks. The question was, does anybody rely on taking and reading notes from class. YES. I DO AND THIS HAS NEARLY ALWAYS BEEN MY PRACTICE.
 
  • #6
Orodruin
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You think I lied? I rely heavily on taking notes. I rely heavily on textbooks. The question was, does anybody rely on taking and reading notes from class. YES. I DO AND THIS HAS NEARLY ALWAYS BEEN MY PRACTICE.
Your response seems to suggest that the OP should be taking notes. There are also several questions in the OP and it is not a priori clear which one you are replying to.

Also, there is no need to be screaming.
 
  • #7
Joshy
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I look back at notes and chapters all the time.

edit: CAPS = screaming? It's probably just a harmless emphasis.
 
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  • #8
symbolipoint
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I look back at notes and chapters all the time.

edit: CAPS = screaming? It's probably just a harmless emphasis.
It's between shouting and emphasis. How much the original poster will need to rely on reading his notes, only he can decide. I needed to make my own notes during class-time. If MidgetDwarf did not need to take and read notes, then I believe him.

( Now rereading, O.P. on this is MidgetDwarf. Notice, he prepared himself for class exceptionally well and for this, he did not find a need for taking notes in class.)
 
  • #9
Orodruin
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edit: CAPS = screaming? It's probably just a harmless emphasis.
This is the general appearance and typical netiquette interpretation, yes.

How much the original poster will need to rely on reading his notes, only he can decide.
Which was exactly the opposite of what I think your first post conveyed, unless you accidentally left out an "I". "Yes, I take notes. Almost always." To me, your first post read as a statement that the OP (and people in general) should always take notes.
 
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  • #10
SteamKing
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Anywho, aside from personalities, sometimes professors lecture off the reservation, so to speak. They cover material which is not in the textbook, or they wish to cover a particular aspect of a topic more thoroughly than it is treated in the text. You have to take notes in these situations, otherwise, what are you going to study for the exam?

When I went to school, some of the professors lectured extensively from their own personal notebooks, to which students did not have access except by taking their own notes in class. In other cases, textbooks were loaned to the students for the term and had to be returned when the class was completed. If you didn't take notes, you couldn't preserve what was important for reference later.
 
  • #11
I am curious to know whether or not people on this forum read/review their notes taken in lecture? [SNIP] Am I the only one here that finds taking notes in lecture pointless?

I also do not take notes in lesson, but I do from the book. In lesson, if you write notes, it tends to be many pages. I like to make sure my notes for one topic can fit on a single side of A4 paper.
 
  • #12
martinbn
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I am like Orodruin, never took notes at lectures nor seminars. When I tried I could never write all that I wanted and sometimes I couldn't follow. But I know people that cannot listen to a talk without taking notes. They say it helps them follow, for me it is the other way around. I also know people that can latex their notes during the lecture/talk and at the end of the lecture have notes better than the speaker. That's beyond me.
 
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  • #13
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It depends on the content being covered, but I generally copy down examples and also anything that may go against my intuition or at least isn't completely obvious to me. But for a lot of courses, I find taking notes detracts from the learning in the class. I could much more efficiently learn it by reading the textbook or relevant notes online before the class and/or after.
 
  • #14
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The funny thing is I never read the notes ( but I take them) when I'm in the class. However, I've had the habit of referring back to my old notes for something else completely. Kind of glad I take them, it's nice to have them. Writing things down helps me retain information a lot of times.
 
  • #15
ProfuselyQuarky
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Do People Actually Read The Notes They Take In Class?
Yes. For my biology class, there was no textbook. Every week, the topics were given and we had to do our own research. The teacher always provided resources, of course, but they varied weekly depending on the topic. The teacher then made everybody write notes (we had a certain format of doing so) whenever we studied or attended lab. By the end of the class, everyone had 2.5 inch binders completely stuffed with handwritten/self-typed notes, vocabulary, and labs with procedures explained. It was literally like we had each made our own personal textbook and it helped me learn a lot.

For lecture-based courses and seminars, I cannot write notes properly (or at least what I think to be proper notes), so I generally only pay attention to the speaker and sporadically write down the most key points (or the points where the teacher hints will find its way to the midterm/final). But I wouldn't call it note-taking. Also, I have a habit of doodling, so I sometimes doodle little comic strips about whatever I'm listening to. That's probably not very good, but for now it has not done any harm.
 
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  • #16
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I take notes on everything covered in class. I usually do not look back at them unless I forgot some minor detail. For me, the act of writing out the information causes me to remember it better.
 
  • #17
ProfuselyQuarky
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I take notes on everything covered in class.
Wow, do you have a shorthand way of writing them? Note-takers always say to devise a shorthand way of writing, but I cannot figure out how.
 
  • #18
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Wow, do you have a shorthand way of writing them? Note-takers always say to devise a shorthand way of writing, but I cannot figure out how.

No, the key is that, if the information is being conveyed particularly quickly, it forces me to process it and reword it in a more concise manner. This has the benefit of requiring that I understand the material when it's first taught.

I take very extensive notes, though. If there's a step that isn't obvious that I feel the teacher didn't explain well enough, I make my own note of it and expand on the argument. The whole point is that writing down the information allows me to slow down and think about what the professor is saying as opposed to nodding and tricking myself into thinking I understand. I do the same thing when reading a textbook. It might just work for me; I don't know.

This is probably easier to do in math-heavy courses, as the information content is much more sense--in a history class you've just gotta write like crazy! In physics and engineering, you can take your time a bit more.
 
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  • #19
ProfuselyQuarky
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I take very extensive notes, though.
You're one of those :) On one extreme you have students trying to chew gum without the speaker noticing and the other extreme is people who spend the entire class vigorously scribbling away.
No, the key is that, if the information is being conveyed particularly quickly, it forces me to process it and reword it in a more concise manner. This has the benefit of requiring that I understand the material when it's first taught. [...] If there's a step that isn't obvious that I feel the teacher didn't explain well enough, I make my own note of it and expand on the argument. The whole point is that writing down the information allows me to slow down and think about what the professor is saying as opposed to nodding and tricking myself into thinking I understand. I do the same thing when reading a textbook. It might just work for me; I don't know.
This is really nice. I suppose I could try making more detailed notes myself. The issue is writing fast, as I cannot stand illegible penmanship. My penmanship is not great, but I hate, hate, HATE (@Orodruin yes, I'm yelling, sorry) sloppy writing. I've literally rewritten pages and pages of lab reports because I could not stand how they looked.

EDIT: And I don't find typing notes as effective as writing them on paper.
 
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  • #20
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I am actually pretty slow and have a short attention span, so I write down notes and later piece the whole thing together from them and my textbook. I also read the relevant textbook portions before the class else I have a hard time understanding.

It really comes down to personal preference though..
 
  • #21
micromass
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I never take notes. I find it useless as I don't look at them anyway.
 
  • #22
Andy Resnick
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I am curious to know whether or not people on this forum read/review their notes taken in lecture?

I regularly took notes throughout undergrad and grad. As it happens, when it came time for me to prepare to teach some upper-division courses, I ended up going back to my (extremely faded) notes to get ideas regarding presentation and test questions.
 
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  • #23
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I only really like to take notes down after I am comfortable solving just about any problem thrown at me. Condense the material into a few pages of notes, written in my own words and as if I'm trying to teach the material to a class. Sometimes I'll create my own example problems and include them. I find this to work really well when studying for finals. Particularly if you have classmates who do the same; share your notes and create problems for each other to solve.
 
  • #24
pasmith
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If the lecturer wrote it on the blackboard, then it was copied down. I still have occasion to refer to them, even 16 years later.
 
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  • #25
analogdesign
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For what it's worth, I'm an experienced engineer, and I *still* break out my notes for my core engineering classes I took first year of graduate school almost 20 years ago. I have my graduate school course notebooks right across from my desk on the bookshelf in my office. If you have an organized professor and you maintained that organization in your notes, then refreshing your memory is more efficient with good notes than with a textbook.
 
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  • #26
Choppy
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I took a lot of notes when I was in school, but I can't help but wonder if the scenario would be different these days.

I started as an undergrad over 20 years ago and the available resources were a lot different at the time. Aside from the textbook (if there was one) my notes were the primary source of information from the course. The internet was in its infancy then and it wasn't common to find things online. Even if you could you either had to go to a computer lab or connect over a phone line and one of my five other house mates might have needed the phone. We also had the library of course, but the bottom line was that taking good notes could save hours of walking to campus, scanning the stacks, finding an alternative textbook, realizing that it had the exact same crappy example as the textbook I already had, etc.

For me taking notes also helped me to organize information. I could write snarky comments in the margin, draw pictures, circle questions etc. For me, it was a way of interacting with the material.

Today, things are different though. For one, I have a Microsoft Surface with EndNote, outfitted with an app that lets me record lectures as I take notes. If I play the lecture back, I can just click on a point in the notes and hear exactly what the lecturer was saying. I don't know what I would have given for something like that as a student. (I guess I still have to take notes though.)

The other thing is that the whole process of looking something up is a lot easier. Students are limited by the degree to which they want to engage with the material, not so much by library hours or the willpower to trek to campus in the snow (20 miles uphill both ways without shoes). So if you miss something in class, you have a lot more options for looking it up.
 
  • #27
phyzguy
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The funny thing is I never read the notes ( but I take them) when I'm in the class. However, I've had the habit of referring back to my old notes for something else completely. Kind of glad I take them, it's nice to have them. Writing things down helps me retain information a lot of times.

I take notes on everything covered in class. I usually do not look back at them unless I forgot some minor detail. For me, the act of writing out the information causes me to remember it better.

I agree with bluechic92 and axmls. The act of writing down the material helps me retain it better. I rarely go back and refer to the notes - it is the note-taking itself which helps.
 
  • #28
George Jones
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I agree with bluechic92 and axmls. The act of writing down the material helps me retain it better. I rarely go back and refer to the notes - it is the note-taking itself which helps.

Different strokes for different folks. My experiences almost exactly parallel Oroduin's.

Taking notes is up to personal preference and different people will learn by doing different things. Personally, I never took notes during lectures. I found that it distracted me from anticipating the trail of thought, which is more important for me.

I tried taking notes when I started university, but I never went back to them and it did not help me understand better. If you are like me, simply do not take notes. It is an individual preference and you have to find the method that helps you learn better.
 
  • #29
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I found that it is useful to choose one textbook (does not have to be required texts; most of time, I found better texts than required ones) and write notes about anything that was not in the book (helpful information from lectures, portions of different texts I read for better understanding) in my own words, along with my proofs, thoughts, attempts, questions, etc. I found that it is more useful to write them inside the books rather than trying to write them in separate pages.

Whenever I try to really write notes from the textbooks and lectures, I always feel that I must write as many words as possible from those sources (Sometimes copying the whole chapters in the textbooks); additionally, I am also forced to think that those detailed notes will be useful in future....Such behavior really interfered with my effort to understand the materials presented in the books and lectures.
 

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