Note taking Strategies
The following notetaking strategies deal with computer survey courses and computer programming courses separately.For Survey Courses
Survey courses often present information on the historical development of computers, hardware, software, computer applications (word processing, databases, spreadsheets, networking and communication, graphics, artificial intelligence, and desktop publishing), and privacy and security. Classes usually consist of both lecture and hands-on demonstrations (D. Applegate, M.B. Harms, CAL).
Reading the textbook and reviewing previous lecture notes are important methods of preparing for lectures in survey courses. If necessary, xerox the term lists at the end of each chapter and take them to class, or develop your own term list for each chapter. Use the chapter headings to form an outline template to help organize information as it is presented in class. Listen for these main ideas during lecture.
Focus on Recording Information
It is often the case that information presented in survey courses is somewhat disjointed and independent. Because of this, students should focus on getting down as much of the information as possible during class. In other words, focus more on writing than on evaluating and identifying relationships among information; you can look for associations among information later when you review your notes. If you have trouble keeping up with the instructor, at least write down partial information that may be supplemented later with the book and other sources.
Pay Attention to Terms, Names, Concepts, and Procedures
When taking notes, focus on terms and definitions, people and contributions, concepts, and lab procedures. It is very important to take notes during labs. At least get down the terms and names even if you don't get all of the details.
Choose a Format
Choose an appropriate format for organizing the notes. The Cornell, two-column, or outlining methods are recommended. Examples of notes recorded in the Cornell style are given below.
If permitted by the instructor, use a tape recorder to make an audio copy of the lecture. This is especially helpful if you have trouble keeping up with the instructor. Taping also is helpful if you need to focus on what is presented visually in class; you can use the tapes to review the auditory information later. Listen to the tapes later to check the accuracy and completeness of the notes. A word of warning: Even if you are taping a lecture, try to write something in your notes to hone your notetaking skills and to help maintain your attention.
Review, Recopy, and Reorganize
It is important to review lecture notes for completeness and accuracy as soon after class as possible. Then is the time to work on understanding the information and to look for relationships and associations. If notes are messy because you had trouble keeping up or if information was missed, it may be necessary to recopy them by hand or on the computer. Consult the book or class mates to add or clarify information. Reorganize the notes using the Cornell or another method if the instructor skips around between topics. Color coding often aids in the reviewing process.
For Programming Courses
Unlike survey courses, programming classes are more concerned with procedural information and independent work. Note taking in such courses will differ markedly in the following ways (D. Applegate, CAL).
While it is still important to do the readings before class, taking term lists and outline templates to lecture probably will not be as beneficial for programming courses as for survey courses. When doing the reading in preparation for class, focus on understanding the main points and general concepts. Procedural information in the text or lab books is most important.
Focus on Understanding
As opposed to survey courses, in programming courses it is more important to focus on understanding concepts than to write down everything the instructor says. Like seminar courses, it is often better to listen closely to the discussion, jotting down terms as needed, and then write down the main points immediately after class.
Pay Attention to Procedures and Sample Programs
Instead of terms and names, it is important to pay particular attention to procedural information in programming classes. Participate in as many hands-on activities in class as possible; don't let other students monopolize the machines. Write down all sample programs and program segments given in class.
If permitted by the instructor, use a tape recorder to make an audio copy of the lecture. Use the recordings when completing homework or lab assignments or when preparing for exams.