How to Analyze the Effectiveness of Your Current

Note-taking Methods

Information from "Note Organization Formats That Inhibit or Promote Learning" by Dennis H. Congos, Academic Advisor and Learning Skills Specialist, University of Central Florida

 

The way students organize notes from textbooks and lectures can enhance or inhibit learning.

In a recent study, Professor Dennis H. Congos compared five note organization formats in terms of their efficiency in promoting learning. The rating begins with the least efficient and ends with the most efficient:

  1. Hilighting a Textbook
  2. Main Idea and Relevant Details
  3. Outline
  4. Cornell System
  5. The Note Card Question and Answer.
  • Take the following pretest to determine whether your current note-taking system for lectures and textbooks promotes or inhibits learning.
  • Print this page to record your answers or use a piece of paper.
  • After you determine the effectiveness of your note-taking style, you will be directed to the format that Professor Congos found to be the best to increase learning.
How to Analyze the Effectiveness of Your Current Note-taking Method

Answer yes or no to the following questions regarding the way you organize your notes:


1. Do notes visually separate main ideas from other main ideas with space?


YES NO
2. Do notes visually separate main ideas from details with space?


YES NO
3. Do notes visually separate details from other details with space?


YES NO
4. Do notes include numbers, letters, and symbols to indicate how many details there are to remember?


YES NO
5. Do notes promote self-testing by quickly revealing what has been learned and what has not been learned before a test is taken?


YES NO
6. Do notes visually and physically separate learned and not-yet-learned material?


YES NO
7. Do notes make it easy to regroup or reorganize main ideas and details?


YES NO
8. Do notes require mental manipulation of ideas to set up and review notes, analyze, evaluate, synthesize, condense, and restructure notes?

YES NO
9. Are notes rewritten in one's own words using abbreviations, symbols, and short phrases?

YES NO
10. Do notes promote summarizing of main ideas?

YES NO
11. Do notes allow for the formation of questions out of main ideas and answers out of details?

YES NO
12. Is the note organization format simple?

YES NO
13. Can notes be conveniently and efficiently reviewed and recited?

YES NO
14. Do notes make it easier to evaluate test performance and effectiveness of study tools?

YES NO
15. Are notes easily portable in a pocket or purse?

YES NO
   

Scoring: To establish a score reflecting the effectiveness of your note organization format, give each YES 1 point and 0 points for each NO. Add up the points and put that total in the box to the right.

Total of Yes Responses:

 

 

 

 

Results of the Study

The study revealed that the Note Card Question and Answer Format proved to be the best of the five methods analyzed to promote learning.

The total score for this format was 15. Compare your score of the current way of you set up notes with the recommended method.

To learn more about note cards, refer to this handout:

Note Card Question and Answer Format.

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3/96rev10/04 Developed by Dennis H. Congos, Academic Advisor & Learning Skills Specialist, First Year Advising and Exploration, 116 Phillips Hall, University of Central Florida, Orlando FL, 32816 407-823-3789 Email: dcongos@mail.ucf.edu

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