Note-taking in undergrad degrees

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  • Thread starter Sojourner01
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  • #26
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I guess it depends how good are you at multitasking and how fast you take notes. I personally am not fast enough even for just taking the notes, forget about thinking with the class and understanding in depth what is being talked about. So I just listen and think in the lecture.

A few weeks ago, before her exam in physics, a girl came to ask help from me. She showed me her notebook, which had the best lecture notes you could ever imagine. But she had always been so busy with taking notes, that she did not understand anything of what she was writing! So much of notes.
 
  • #27
mathwonk
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it sounds a bit like the conundrum posed by whether to videotape my son playing ball, or watch him play.
 
  • #28
I take notes all the time. It just seems like my professors skip a lot less steps than with some derivations in the book and sometimes they might be explaining some mathematics that I don't know. It is so annoying not knowing the math beforehand. I also find the problems we do in class useful.
 
  • #29
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Students aren't stupid.
Ha, really? But I digress...

a lot of lecturers like making up their own problem sets. But the point is that, even if 1-5 aren't true at your university[...]
It isn't, hence the confusion. I would have thought lecturers in general would have made some effort not to screw over their students financially. I know that here, setting a 'required' text just wouldn't happen. Nobody would buy it because they cannot. afford. it. No question about it.
 
  • #30
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hmm sojourner where do you live?
 
  • #31
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Reading, UK. I think it's a difference in cultures - british students refuse to pay a massive amount of money they don't have for books; whatever they're told. Provided it's a decision en masse, the faculty has to yield.
 
  • #32
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If the notes are useless it usualy means the lecturer is useless.

If the lecturer is good the notes are more valuable than the textbook. Atleast to me. I always learn the best when the lecturer and the lecture notes are so good that I never have to open the textbook.
 
  • #33
verty
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Not opening the textbook is dangerous.
 
  • #34
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Not opening the textbook is dangerous.
Well I didnt mean it quite literaly. But in many classes I have taken the lecturer was so good that I could have performed very well on the exam without ever needing the textbook. I usualy skim through the textbook for fun either way.

But the worst thing imo is a lecturer that just recite the textbook on the lectures. Thats just useless, I can rather spend those hours reading myself.
I go to leactures to get a different view from the textbook.

Fortunaly that worst case scenarion has only happened during one or two classes so far.
 
  • #35
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hmm maybe that was why i studied so much less than my friends and still got decent grades. I never read text books, I only used my notes to study for exams. if you have decent notes, you dont need to read your text book. most professors like to design their exams around what they teach in class not what is in a book. i remember never reading any of my economics books or pretty much none of my chemistry or physics books.
 
  • #36
J77
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Reading, UK. I think it's a difference in cultures - british students refuse to pay a massive amount of money they don't have for books; whatever they're told. Provided it's a decision en masse, the faculty has to yield.
Yeah - there's no point buying books, just go to the library if you need to look anything up.

I don't know if it's common outside the UK, or just like students (or self studiers) here on PF, but I've never felt the need to go through a textbook from cover to cover, doing every question. imo, this is no way to learn a subject; it's much better taking notes in lectures.

Your earlier story Soj: I've known of people to ask a publisher to vaccum wrap a failing copy of their book in with a recommended text for a course - thus getting some extra dosh out of it...
 
  • #37
I find that taking notes in class helps to initially position my thoughts on the subject. I then work up my own set of notes drawing notes, text-book & other literature into a full set of notes. Sometimes I can end up with 2 lever-arch files of notes per course.

Before exams, I re-work the notes into a set of summary notes & then take mental images of each page.

This procedure sets the concepts firmly into my head & understanding. This method allowed me to carry information in my head for some 15 years after initial graduation. I then constantly reinforce, or modify this knowledge each year by reading additional books.

It becomes a life of learning, rather than merely swotting to pass a subject.

desA
That is essentially the same way that I prepare for courses. I find that when I use a method quite similar to yours, I too find that I maintain strong mental snapshots of the pages themselves which helps when you are scanning for information in your head.

I also think constructing your own notes for the course based on lecture and text (and outside information you might discover), really helps create a theoretical framework to work through and establishes a strong base to revtrieve information from.

However, I only used this method for maths and physics because that requires a lot of effort on my part. Every other class I had required absolutely no effort to recieve an A, (granted, these are of course, very simple GE's).
 
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  • #38
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I take notes to stay awake, but if I miss some things I don't mind... usually I'll try work ahead of the professor and complete the example ahead of time, thus making me:

a) Think about it before being told what it is
b) Catch any mistakes the professor makes on the board

Works pretty well, you just have to write and think quickly. And sometimes when I mess up a step or have something different than what's on the board I'll fall behind trying to figure out what the discrepancy was.
 
  • #39
radou
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Depends both on the course and on the professor. If it happens that both course and professor are interesting, then I take notes, which I find more useful than any book. Sometimes it's best to combine lecture notes with books, although that depends on the subject, again.
 
  • #40
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I used to take notes, but then realized I never looked at them, so I stopped.
I find when I take notes I end up shutting off the other parts of my brain used to actually think about the lecture.
 
  • #41
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I always rely on my notes, and leave book as the last resort. It's always faster for me to look at the notes then attempt to do a problem than to search through the book to see how to do it.

For this reason - I never buy books for my classes. (I'm not paying $500 / semester just for books, no way) I use interlibrary loan to get the books I need, then keep renewing the books just before when I have to return it.
 

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