Do you take notes in class? Are the margins filled with doodles, manga sketchings, and bubble letters? Or, are the margins filled with various symbols of connection?
Remember the previous blog that gave some suggestions about how to read a textbook (or any class reading material)? Class lecture notes are the place to make connections with the reading material.
First, when taking notes in class, come up with a symbol system for coding the information:
Choose one color for terms and definitions; another color for open-ended ideas that aren’t neatly packaged with a ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answer. ALL CAPS for those concepts the instructor has talked about so many times you know it will show up on an exam or be important for a future essay. You can use highlighters or underlining techniques – anything that will cue your eyes later that this ‘thing’ (term/concept/idea) is important. But, it isn’t enough to just mark something as important; you have to give yourself a clue as to the reason behind the importance.
This is what margins are for.
Your note margins are the space where you make a different set of notes (often including arrows and pointers): in the margins, connect the lecture notes to your textbook notes. Put pointers and arrows to concepts in class — on the line that points to margin, write in the textbook information (just the amount you need to remember to connect those two ideas). Later on, when you go back to review your notes (which should be at least 3 times a week unless there are exams), you will have made a map of the important pieces to study and where to give attention.
Thinking back to last weeks’ posts, this study habit is built gradually. Not overnight. Try these various study habits for at least one month; tweak as needed but don’t give up. Good study habits, once habituated, are for life!