Description of this Guide
This guide examines ways of improving your organisation and thinking while taking down information at speed. You are asked to take stock of why you may not be getting the most out of lectures to encourage you to be a more reflective and interactive learner.
The guide looks at how you can prepare effectively before lectures and where you should be looking for resources. Different ways of taking down information are explored so that you can match methods to your personal learning style.
1. Use information more effectively to support the learning process
2. Examine mind maps which model information in the guide
3. Become more interactive during the process of taking down information during lectures.
Contents 1. Reasons for getting the most out of lectures
2. Preparing for lectures 1. Pre-lecture preparation and organisation 2. Are you a ‘lecture sponge’? 3. Making effective use of pre-lecture notes and downloads
0. Ways of recording information during lectures 1. Deciding how to take down information in lectures
4. What to do with the information after lectures
The material in this guide is copyright © 2003 the University of Southampton. Permission is given for it to be copied for use within the University of Southampton. All other rights are reserved.
Getting the Most from Lectures
There are many reasons why some of you do not get as much out of lectures as you should. In many cases this is because you have not prepared sufficiently and you go into a lecture expecting to get all the answers, to get all the information needed to write an assignment or to get information to pass examinations.
1.0 Reasons for Not Getting the Most out of Lectures
Here are some of the reasons why you might not be making the most of lectures:
1. Your expectations of the purpose of the lecture are inappropriate.
2. You are unable to cope with the volume of information because it is all new to you.
3. You quickly go into ‘information overload’ and give up taking notes.
4. You do not recognise or understand some of the new terminology – this makes it difficult to take down notes quickly enough because your thinking is slowed down by this new terminology; you are unsure of the spelling of new words and this slows down your processing while taking notes; or you cannot follow the gist of the lecture and lose your way.
5. Lack of any grasp of a new subject/topic reduces your ability to make decisions about selecting relevant and important information for your notes.
6. The information seems very detailed and in great depth, and you are unable to listen for main points and subsidiary information or evidence.
7. You are distracted easily by other students who are talking or by rustling of paper.
8. The lecturer’s style may not match the way you take in information.
To some extent these problems can be solved by:
▪ Clarity of purpose (reasons 1 to 8); ▪ Pre-lecture preparation (reasons 1 to 6); ▪ Improved note-taking skills (reasons 4 to 5); ▪ Improved listening skills (reasons 4 to 6); ▪ Developing an active approach to learning (reasons 1 to 8).
2.0 Preparing for Lectures
There are many sources of information which you can use to help you prepare effectively to get the most out of your lectures.
2.1 Pre-lecture preparation
The mindmap below gives you suggestions for where to look:
2.2 Are you a ‘lecture sponge’?
Spending time preparing for lectures is time well spent and will ensure that you learn more when you go to the lecture and that your note-taking is more effective and meaningful.