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OPTIONAL NOTE-TAKING METHOD (CORNELL)

There are at least five methods for taking notes in any class.  Each person probably has her own system based on one of these methods, or a combination of them.  
The five methods are:

1. Charting
2. Cornell
3.
Mapping
4. Outline
5. Sentence

Each note-taking method has its advantages and disadvantages.  By observation, most students in the MECH 10 class seem to use a combination of the Outline Method and Sentence Method.  This document will not address those.

A system with which students may be unfamiliar is the Cornell Method

  • This technique seemed to work well with K-12 students after some practice.  
  • It appears to function best in situations where the information is not presented in a logical or outline sequence.

Below is an introduction to the Cornell Method.

Begin this method by:

  • Labeling the top of each page with at least the class name, topic, date and page number.
    • These help if the note pages become disarranged at some point.
  • Ruling the note page vertically making at least two columns (sometimes three).
    • The leftmost column is about two and one-half inches wide.  
    • The second column is about six inches wide and both columns run almost the entire length of the page.
    • If a third column is used, it contains an example or formula if the phrase refers to one.
  • The wide column contains the actual notes.  
    • Each line has a short phrase or sentence pertaining to significant points in the topic.
    • When the instructor moves to a new point, lines are skipped and the wide-column "notes" continue. 
  • After class, the narrower, left column gets “cues” 
    • Each line has “subject words” that refer to each phrase written in the wide column.
  • At the bottom of the page, or at the end of the session, some people leave a full-page-width area where they summarize the meaning of the discussion  

As soon as possible after class, the student completes:

  • the “cues” or subject words in the left column for each phrase in the wide column.
  • adds to the "notes" phrases for better understanding.

Example note page drawing

The Cornell Method may offer a significant advantage during study.  

To review the notes:

  • The student covers everything but the “cue” in the left column.  
  • The student says the cue out loud and tries to say as much as possible about the material contained in the hidden phrase to which the cue refers.  
    • The phrase is then uncovered to see if the student had the answer.  
    • This method makes the notes similar to flash cards.  
  • The Cornell Method requires less rewriting of notes and fewer modifications for efficient study.
    • It tends to work best when there is a lot of vocabulary, technical terms, formulas and independent (less-than-organized) ideas to retain.

If you wish not to change your note-taking style, just leave a wide column on the left side of the page into which you can later add "cues" to get some of the advantages of this method.  An example appears just below.

Example notes page drawing

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USING THE CORNELL METHOD WITH SLIDES

The note-taking method described above works well with the slide presentations used in class.  Powerpoint® slides in class are arranged so that each topic page (slide) has a main point followed by a "proof."  The main point, or assertion, represents the "phrase" or short sentence in the "notes" column.  The majority of the slide, the "proof," may be listed in the example column, if it's a formula.  It also may be listed in the notes column if it contains some additional significant information.  Below are the two slides from which the first line in the example notes page above derives its content.

Exzmple slide

The slide above indicates the topic, series circuits, and the assertion that "all loads are in a line."  The drawing is used by the instructor to guide the discussion visually and auditorially to show that the assertion is true (the "proof").

Example slide 2

The slide above asserts that current is common to all loads in a series circuit and, again, the instructor uses the schematic to guide the discussion visually and auditorially to show that the assertion is valid (the "proof").

Example slide 3

The slide shown above asserts the formula for voltage in its various forms.  The instructor uses a different slide for the proof.  This slide represents how a formula was entered into the sample notes page above.

Example slide 4

The slide above is the one that begins to "prove" the Ohm's Law formulas indicated in other slides.  The "notes column" will likely have just "Figure the Formula," and the right column will contain the formula wheel drawing.

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"A poet never takes notes.  You never take notes in a love affair."
          
Robert Frost (1874 - 1963)
            Poet

©2010 W. Michael Robinson

 

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