I have never understood how it is possible to listen and write at the same time.
Except when absolutely forced to by a teacher, I am almost certain I have never taken a note in my life. (At the most, I jotted down a word or line to help me recall something later–but by “note taking” I mean carefully recording the content of the lecture in some written fashion.)
A prof who I thought was quite “young and with it” once complained to me that I wasn’t taking notes. He seemed to think it was a sign that I wasn’t listening. Why did I mention that just now? It seemed relevant for a moment but I now forget why.
I have seen students in my own classes let note taking get in the way (AFAICT, in my opinion) of their learning. I’ve actually occasionally made a blanket announcement to the class that I think that note-taking is not for everyone, but I fear I’m doing students a disservice by doing this. Should I instead be telling them all to take better notes? But I don’t know how to do that–because I’ve never done it myself.
I caution them that I do not interpret note-taking as a “sign of respect” or anything like that. I know they can listen without taking notes. Note-taking is a strategy they can use if they find it effective. And yes, I do say it: If they haven’t found it effective in the past, then it’s not clear to me why they should bother.
Here’s what I don’t get:
–How do you listen and write at the same time?
–How do you transcribe and think about the content at the same time?
–What do you do with the notes later? (The times I’ve been forced to take notes, later I was like, wtf am I supposed to do with this?)
Is there research on the effectiveness of note-taking as a learning tool?
It’s not like I’ve got a great memory or anything–my memory is damned awful in fact. But to me, learning isn’t so much about “remembering” anything as it is about understanding things. For me, note taking could act as a memory aid but it seems to me it only gets in the way of understanding–after all, it’s the note takers who are always trying to give me exactly the wording I gave them from class, showing no sign of real understanding at all. (If they really did give me exactly my wording back, I couldn’t objectively give them anything but an A–but the problem is, those who try to do this typically fail and give me a jumble of the words I said. I’d much prefer they’d put their pens down, forgot about “remembering” what I said, and instead focussed on understanding it.
It sucks because when they give me the word jumble, and I reply back using much the same phrasing as that used in class or in the text, then they take away “I didn’t remember this well enough!” and the cycle continues…