"...a little at a time rather than all at once..."
Note-taking is not instinctive; its an acquired skill.
Immediate rehearsal is best.
Some of the slides may be on the Web site, but they are no substitute for being
The three-Rs method of studying.
Review, review, review.
...and then review.
Study smart, not long.
|Read the relevant
material before the lectures.
When you first read a particular chapter, begin by reading the chapter summary two or
three times. Then, skim through the chapter, looking carefully at some of the key diagrams
and pictures and noting the major chapter headings in order to get an overall view of the
scope of the chapter. Since at this preliminary stage you will not likely know what is or
is not important, it is not yet essential to underline concepts or take notes. Research on
effective studying indicates that it is generally much better to read small amounts at a
time attentively than to read a large amount passively or inattentively. You might also at
this stage plan your reading times, breaks, and reviewing strategies.
Attend the lectures, taking notes on the key points.
During the lectures, copy down
points that are presented and make sure that you understand them. Note that a selection of
the more important visual material will subsequently appear on the Web site. If there is
something you missed or did not understand at a lecture, ask Professor Wall (or the guest
lecturer) about it immediately after the lecture if you can, and then correct or complete
your notes. Unless you are one of those very few who can take clear and legible notes
during the lecture, it almost certainly will be necessary for you to edit or re-write your
lecture notes soon after the lecture (while the material is still fresh and you can still
remember your handwritten scrawls). Insert headings, sub-headings, numberings,
definitions, and so on, as may be helpful. It is also more helpful for later recall if you
do not wait too long to carry out your first review and study of your notes. Research
indicates that retention is greater and less subject to interference if one rehearses
material frequently soon after confronting it than if one delays rehearsals until just
prior to being tested on the material.
In note-taking, it is helpful to
separate clearly the different topics as they arise in lecture. Indent, or otherwise
subsume, any additional paraphrases of points, any related concepts, and any examples that
fall under the major topic headings of the lecture.
If you miss a
lecture and cannot attend the same lecture from the alternative section (day or
evening), obtain the notes from another student as soon as possible after the lecture.
Review the notes and clear up any ambiguities with the person from whom you obtained the
notes. Consider rewriting the notes, or portions of them, in your own words. (Please note
that the Instruction Centre does not maintain a library of lecture notes or lecture
cassettes to lend to students who miss lectures, although Lena Paulo Kushnir and Ming Lee
are available for assistance if you have any questions concerning the content of the
You may audiotape the lectures, but
only from your seat. Please do not place recording instruments on the stage or at
the front of the lecture hall.
Read and review the relevant material a
On this occasion you should strive to
organize, understand and recall the material in your own words. The "three-Rs"
methodRead, Recite, Reviewused in combination with the construction of
tree diagrams is an excellent way to master the relevant concepts, ideas and research
findings. (Click here to see some sample tree diagrams.) The
"three-Rs" method involves reading the material in small chunks (two to
three pages at a time, at most), then closing the text and reformulating in your own words
(reciting) what you have just read: definitions, relations between concepts,
distinctions between theories, and so forth. Being unable to articulate the material to
yourself clearly requires reviewing the material and repeating the process.
The purpose of a tree diagram
is to help you see the relations among the concepts and to develop a conceptual
understanding of "what goes where and why." In constructing a tree diagram you
should pay close attention to the various headings and subheadings that appear in the
text. (You should certainly include any concepts that appear in bold print or italics, but
do not assume that only those concepts that are in bold print or italics are important.
Some names and concepts in normal print are also very important.) A tree diagram can be
likened to a blueprint for a chapter: it shows the essential structure of the chapter.
However, many details and refinements will not appear in the tree diagram and will only
occur to you as you "read, recite and review."
You should organize and digest even
your own written notes on the reading material. Without a cohesive structure, making
extensive notes on a chapter is rarely useful. In fact, it is quite easy to spend hours
copying notes from the text without really being aware of what you are writing, though you
delude yourself into thinking that you are accomplishing something!
Review the material (again) about a week before the
Re-read the chapter summaries and
go over your tree diagrams. Use the tree diagrams to assess how much you remember, and try
actively to fill in what the diagrams omit: definitions of concepts, distinctions between
concepts, examples, descriptions of evidence that supports or contradicts different
theories, and so forth. Review your lecture notes to confirm your understanding of this
material. Study as though you were going to write an essay test. Reliance on recognition
alone will not allow you to rule out reliably the incorrect alternatives on PSY100
A final word of advice.
Students in past years whose
performance in the course did not meet their expectations could generally attribute their
disappointing performance to two factors: first, they often had not reviewed each chapter
frequently enough (most students requiring at least three reviews); second, they often had
not been sufficiently active in their studying. Active studying requires you to engage
fully with the material; to decide what relates to what, what is important, which concepts
you might confuse with other similar concepts; and to formulate the ideas in your own
words. The steps outlined above should help you to become a more productive learner. For
more complete information on processing and organizing material to be remembered, see
Chapter 7 on "Memory" in the Gleitman text, particularly the material on
encoding and retrieval. (We cover this material systematically in the second and third
weeks of November.)
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