What are we trying to do here?

This is a basic question which has a lot to do with note-taking.

You can do better.

The real point of college is not to simply pour information into your head as if you were some sort of piggy bank (then eventually to turn you upside-down and shake you to see what comes out). The real point of college is for students (you) to learn how to solve problems and to think critically. The best way to gain those skills is to interact with the material (reading and lectures), and note-taking is a key skill to help you do that.

Benefits of note-taking

Even if you will not be taking a test on the material, here are some benefits of taking notes—whether in classroom lectures or on readings.

A Teacher's Reflection

In my classes, it is quite rare to see someone actually taking notes, and when I give a quiz, the normal routine is for three or four students (at least) to desperately beg from their colleagues because they showed up with neither paper nor pen. They just weren't equipped to be students. And when I deal with some purely factual piece of information (for example, the difference between MLA and APA in-text citations), almost nobody retains it or can use it. That APA/MLA thing and the way we punctuate book titles and article titles are two examples of material well covered in our textbook and in lectures and PowerPoints, but nobody can remember it because they didn't interact with the content. It flowed over the students but didn't soak in.

I assume nobody ever discussed note-taking in any junior high school or high school in Ohio. The words of Professor Kirk from the first Narnia book fit here: "I wonder what they do teach them at these schools."

Some outside words on note-taking

The views and opinions expressed in this page are strictly those of the page author.
The contents of this page have not been reviewed or approved by Ashland University.
Revised 3/26/20 • Page author: Curtis Allen • e-mail: