Promoting Note-Taking Skills

Note-taking is an essential but often underdeveloped skill. Please find below instructional strategies and student support resources for helping freshmen learn to take notes. If you have a practice to contribute, please email Adriana Signorini.

Teaching Tips

How to teach/encourage classroom note-taking

Before class

Expect or require note-taking in your course and structure the course so that it supports note-taking. For example, rotate student responsibility for posting notes to the course blog on CROPS. Public notes like this can also provide you with valuable insights into how students organize and prioritize what they see and hear. Be sure to explain why note taking is so valuable to their learning.

  • Provide incentives for taking notes by building into course accountability.
  • Tip: Cornell note-taking paper: Sample Handout.

During Class:

  • Help focus student note-taking by explaining what to take notes about, for example, your verbal explanations, PowerPoint slides, transitions between slides, etc. 
  • Suggest a short hand for note-taking, for example, adopt texting strategies.
  • Use white space (skip lines between ideas).
  • Use a double entry note system, for example, the Cornell note-taking system. Cornell University

After Class:

  • Provide feedback on the quality of notes using a blog or other way to share notes widely. Provide feedback on a few examples, and all students can benefit. 
  • Suggest to students they mark up notes after class, hightlight underlying number, add question marks, etc. How to Study

Student Support Resources