Note taking Strategies For Sociology
Several strategies may be used by students to improve the completeness, accuracy, and recall of sociology lecture notes. These include preparation, outlines, Cornell method, taping, study groups, recopying and reorganizing, summaries, and review, each of which is described below.
The quality and organization of lecture notes are improved by preparing for each lecture. Be sure to read the assigned chapters before class. Use chapter headings and subheadings to write an outline template to use when recording notes in class. Write down questions to ask during lecture. Make xeroxed copies of illustrations, on which one may record notes and explanations. Take xeroxed copies of the chapter term lists and listen for those words during lecture (M. Hartman, CAL).
Outlines help students to organize their notes and to follow the lecture. If the instructor writes an outline on the board for each lecture, be sure to copy it and use it as a guideline for taking detailed notes. If the instructor does not provide a lecture outline, students may prepare their own before class using the headings and subheadings in the readings (J. Scheltz, CAL).
Besides outlines, the Cornell method is strongly recommended for taking lecture notes in sociology courses. Key terms, concepts, and names, which are recorded in the recall column, may be used later to make study guides, to write practice questions, and to self-test (J. Scheltz, CAL). Other organizational formats are described in the Information Organization section.
If you have difficulty keeping up with lecture notes or are an auditory learner, taping the lectures is a helpful strategy. After asking the instructor's permission, make an audio recording of lectures using a small tape recorder. This permanent and complete (except for information written on the board) record of the lecture may be reviewed after class to fill in gaps or make corrections in the notes (M. Hartman, CAL).
Form a study group for team notetaking. One approach is for students to meet after class to share their notes. Another strategy is to divide the lecture into parts and have each student record notes for one part. Meet later to exchange notes. The goal is to pool your resources and get the most complete and accurate set of notes you can (M. Hartman, CAL).
Recopy and Reorganize Notes
Sociology information should be reviewed often in order to make connections among different topics and to aid in retention. One way to review is to recopy your lecture notes by hand or on a computer. When recopying, you might need to reorganize the notes into another format that is understandable and easy to remember. Outlines, matrices or tables, webs, or a combination of these and other formats may be used (M. Hartman, CAL). Examples of these organizational approaches are given in the Information Organization section.
Writing short summaries at the end of each lecture encourages students to thoughtfully process the information and helps them to comprehend the major ideas of the lecture. If the instructor summarizes at the beginning of each class, students should mark that information in their notes with some symbol or with a highlighter. It is likely that information emphasized in a summary will be covered on an exam (M. Hartman, CAL).
For classes in which test material comes exclusively or almost entirely from lectures, it is very important to choose an efficient method of reviewing the notes periodically (M. Hartman, CAL). It is suggested that students review the notes as soon after class as possible. After reviewing the new notes for the day, review all prior notes since the last test.
To be as effective as possible, the reviewing process should actively engage students. Here are some ideas for active reviews: