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Note-taking in undergrad degrees

  1. Feb 1, 2007 #1
    To what level do most of you rely on your own handwritten class notes after the fact? I ask because I produce reams of paperwork, but can't imagine any of it ever being useful and am highly tempted to consign most of it to the bin. I would always go to a book on the subject before my notes if I wanted to recall something. I use note-taking purely as a means of committing information to memory - they're a mechanism. Once written they are of no use to me beyond occasionally retracing my thoughts for completing assignments. So, do any of you find your old university notes useful maybe years after making them?
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 1, 2007 #2
    I never ever use my notes either. I take notes mainly to stay away (and alert) during classes. And besides, why look up stuff in your notes when the lecturer usually follows a book anyway (hence you can find more detailed info in the book). This of course only applies to undergrad courses (for me)
  4. Feb 1, 2007 #3
    I didn't pay $400 for books so I could study from my notes :rolleyes:
  5. Feb 1, 2007 #4
    $400 is a good semester!

    When I took physics I used the notes I took in that class because the professor was good at lecturing. In calc 3 I take notes that I read and hm...I do read my notes alot now that I think about it.

    But I guess it all depends on the professor.
  6. Feb 1, 2007 #5
    Interesting. I never ever used my textbooks. They were a huge waste of money. I only used them when I did homework problems. I think almost 20% of my textbooks are still in their plastic wrapping.
  7. Feb 1, 2007 #6
    I never use or take notes, and in some of my classes the professor will go as far as to say not to tae them as he provides a set of lecture notes, or a textbook which will contain far more information than you could ever take down in your notes.

    lectures are for absorbing what the lecturer is saying and for getting some additional explanations on certain aspects of the theory.
  8. Feb 1, 2007 #7


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    I have the same attitude towards lectures as CPL.Luke. Therefor, I will not write the lenghty derivations, which are in the books anyway, but only the insightful comments (verbal or written) of the lecturer. And if he doesn't share his insights I won't go to class. But I wouldn't recommend you trying this at home.
  9. Feb 1, 2007 #8
    I have to agree that I rarely use my notes after the lecture ends. They are beneficial though because as I write things down I remember them better, even without looking back on them later. In fact, I've tried to look over my notes at the end of the day to recap the lecture and I find it boring because I remember it all. I suppose it depends on your learning style.
  10. Feb 1, 2007 #9
    I haven't taken notes in any class since grade 10.
  11. Feb 1, 2007 #10
    I write notes prolifically for some some subjects, not math or philosophy though. Putting your thoughts down sentence by sentence, in a logical manner, is a great way for clarifying and organizing any half-remembered, half-understood ones. I also make a comprehensive one-page outline for the entire semester, which I update (Hence update my understanding) after every assignement, by asking questions and organizing and reorganizing. I can have 80 pages of notes a term, but always a one page framework that gives me a global understanding and an outline to reconstruct the details from. So I learn 80% from notes, 20% by other means with these types of subjects.

    I do the same thing for Math and Philosophy but to a far lesser extent, only have something like 10-20 notes in total per term. To understand these subjects, philosophy and math, you need to DO them. Solving problems, proving things in math and writing analytic essays, evaluating arguments, in philosophy. Learning 20% from notes, 80% by DOING them.
  12. Feb 2, 2007 #11
    I find it perplexing that many students seem to spend vast sums on books when they're available from the library. In our case we have a departmental library with a fair-sized collection of undergraduate books and journals - so if they're not in the university library they're very likely to be in there.
  13. Feb 2, 2007 #12
    I used to take notes to remain alert, come exam time, compress the info by going over them 1 or 2 times. Then revise using the compressed form and the text. After that, id usually discard uncompressed notes.
  14. Feb 2, 2007 #13


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    Same as.

    Plus, for me, I wrote down everything in my maths degree - mainly because I couldn't imagine sitting through a complex analysis lecture without doing so and being able to stay awake!
  15. Feb 2, 2007 #14
    I fall asleep and become disconnected when I take notes in class, so instead, I engage the lecturer with questions and try to organize information in my head while I listen, (I mostly just listen). I have a really strong memory when I am dynamically involved in structuring it, which I can't do taking notes.

    I do, however, make chapter and section outlines for mathematics and physics only (the other classes are a joke) on my computer which I print out and keep in binders. I have a binder for each textbook and in each binder are my chapter outlines.

    I have a Calculus binder, seperated into text books (I like to use a few different ones) and then seperated into chapters. I have one for Algebraic and Geomtric Arithmetic, Trigonometry, Abstract Algebra and Calculus.

    I started learning Algebra and Geometry a couple of months ago for basically the first time (I didn't know what imaginary or complex numbers were before this) and since then, I have just maintained that same mentality of making binders for my text-book. It doesn't take me very long because I am a word processor at a law firm, so I am used to typing on a computer all day.

    I use this quite often to refer to formulas, theorems, proofs, concepts, definitions, axioms, postulates etc. that I don't need the text book for. I like to keep my own comments in my outlines so that when I go back later, I can retreive the thought-process that I left off with.

    My memory is triggered by cues, so if I leave cues for myself I can trigger my retarded memory. These binders definitely help me remember things because I can refer to the pictures of my notes in my head and it helps trigger information.

    I wish I had the talents that some of the PFers on here have. It seems a lot of people here can read the book without ever really putting in much effort and extrapolate many levels of information.

    Dammn you geniuses!!!!
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2007
  16. Feb 2, 2007 #15


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    I never use my notes either. The notes I get in class are terrible anyways. They always work through the same problems as in the textbook. For crying out loud, I can walk myself through those examples.

    Seriously, writing notes is a waste of time literally.
  17. Feb 2, 2007 #16


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    I generally made a habit of writing the notes in the margins of my textbooks so the materials would stay together. If the lecturer emphasized some concept, likely, there would be a relevant question or two at exam-time, and I didn't have to waste time thumbing through the text looking for relevant passages when reviewing my notes. I never had any problem selling my texts afterward, unless the profs changed to a different text for the next semester.
  18. Feb 2, 2007 #17
    I like to take notes because I like looking back on them to reminisce about all I've been through. I still have my notes from so long ago when I first got to college, when I took my first calculus course, when I took my first philosophy course, etc. It's a lot of fun looking through them and it brings back a lot of memories. I find fun little notes I wrote in the margins too like, "what the hell is he talking about" or "I'm lost...this is stupid," heheh.

    If the lectures are based on the book then I'll sometimes skip writing notes. But if they have information not in the book then I'll write down EVERYTHING the professor says/writes. This is very necessary as I have a horrible learning disability and can't really learn anything in class, so I have to write things down and work through the notes slowly on my own time.
  19. Feb 2, 2007 #18
    Writing the notes for me helps visually because on exams or quizzes I can sometimes recognize a problem and rewrite it word for word and just change a few parameters. I know its not about memorizing but its helped me a ton to get grades.

    I'm also a slow learner so rewriting things over and over is how I get it done. If i just read chapters from the book nothing is absorbed until I write it down which is very time consuming.
  20. Feb 2, 2007 #19
    notebook = scratch paper in my math + physics class.
  21. Feb 2, 2007 #20
    I shall only talk about my note-taking in maths class since this is a maths forum.

    Clearly, I want to learn and maintain good mark simultaneously. Therefore, I take note when notes are needed for the exams. However, I dont take note mindlessly. I always "master" the material before it is discussed in class. Therefore if no material is introduced in class, no note will be taken. That doesnt imply I dont study. In fact, I read text every night and thing about the material constantly. This helps me to earn a lot of trust from my professor.
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