How to Attend Lectures and Take Notes

You need to go to the lectures and take notes.

The lecture is the main way the professors pass their knowledge to you. This is a common mistake many students make: they go to the lectures, sit there passively, and copy down what is on the board without knowing what is going on. There is no active learning.

The Right Way

You go to lectures prepared, i.e., you know what is to be covered and what you do not understand from the preview and you make sure to get your questions answered during or after the lecture. During the lecture, follow the professor, concentrate on the ideas, background and significance of the material covered, special techniques, etc. Pay special attention to things not covered in the textbook and things you do not understand from your own reading. Take notes that you can understand. You do not have to copy down theorems or examples if they are in the book, thereby saving time for you to follow the professor. After the lecture, review your notes with the textbook, fill in details you did not have time to write down during the lecture. Your notes will be full of your own personal learning and understanding.

Anticipation skills

Learn quickly the "style" of each of your professors.
Be aware of what will be presented in the next lecture.

Attending skills

Sit toward the center of the classroom close to the front.
Listen with a purpose and with certain expectations in mind.
Be an active not a passive listener; get involved.
Make an effort to remember, "What are the important things covered today?"
Learn to filter out "noise." Don't be distracted by other conversations.

Note-Writing skills

Use abbreviations whenever possible.
Date all the notes and number all pages.
Leave blank space on each page of notes for information missed.
Develop a system to give extra emphasis to key ideas, concepts, definitions: underline, use different-colored ink, use asterisks, draw arrows, etc.
Don't be overly concerned with neatness and style.
Give equal importance to all aspects of the lecture.
Spoken words are just as important as what is written on the board.
Listen carefully at the end of each class session before you wrap up.

Organizing and Reviewing Notes

This step is important to make your notes more complete and meaningful. Your notes should be a complete record of course material you learned as well as your learning experience. At the end of the course, you should put a table of contents at the cover that will aid in retention and make future review and study easier.

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