Taking notes on campus

How learning styles affect note-taking

There are many methods to note-taking in class, and often different learning styles can affect how students take notes.

Wesley Sysa, a current University of Winnipeg (U of W) student, says he believes that students should figure out their learning style as it helps them to absorb subject material.

“Whether it is in class or in the workforce, if they know their learning style, they (students) can learn whatever it is faster and be able to retain that information a lot easier,” Sysa says.

The term learning styles refers to the idea that students all learn differently through the absorption, processes, comprehension and retention of information. The VAK model, created by Walter Burke Barbe and colleagues, focuses on the three major sensory receivers: visual, auditory and kinesthetic.

An example of two different learning styles is one student learning how to do something like build a clock through oral instructions, while another student actually has to manipulate the clock with their own hands.

Angela Carlson, a current U of W student, says she doesn't know what her learning style is, but she does know that she learns better from the practical application of ideas.

“I think it would be helpful to have insight as to what my learning style is, and I do think that it would impact how I study, help me to study more effectively,” Carlson says.

According to Oxford Learning, the mapping method has advantages of being useful for visual learners, and the outlining method has advantages for being able to easily see relationships between topics and subtopics. Some other methods are the charting method, the Cornell method and the sentence method, according to Oxford Learning.

Sysa says he knows what his learning style is, and he does make an effort to use it when taking notes.

“When I take notes, I know that my learning style is writing it (the notes) myself by hand, and I will not use a computer. As well, I will rewrite my notes to get the notion of the words, because that’s what helps me learn,” Sysa says.

Carlson says she takes written notes in all of her classes and tries to stick to what her professors give for the slides in class. Even though she doesn’t print out the provided slides, she takes notes on what she deems most important.

“I find this to be the most effective way for me to learn the material, and I tried taking notes on PowerPoint slides, as well as typing notes. I do not find this to necessarily be effective for me,” Carlson says.

There have been many studies done on the benefits of taking notes by hand, such as improved memory.  Benefits when typing notes on a laptop are having access to other digital documents or recording lectures for later review.

“I believe that the method of taking notes has a large impact on how well a student retains the information they are taught, which in turn has a large impact on how well they do on tests, etc.,” Carlson says.

Published in Volume 72, Number 22 of The Uniter (March 22, 2018)

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