Chapter 4 Listening, Taking Notes, and Remembering

Where Are You Now?

Assess your present knowledge and attitudes.

Yes Unsure No
1. I am satisfied with my grades.
2. I usually feel well prepared for classes.
3. I usually understand what is going on in class.
4. I find it easy to stay focused in class.
5. I am not shy or self-conscious about asking questions.
6. I learn from recorded lectures and podcasts.
7. I take useful notes in class.
8. I go to the instructor’s office when I have a question about an assignment.
9. I can successfully study for a test from the notes I have taken.
10. I use different note-taking methods in different classes.
11. I do not have trouble remembering facts and ideas.
12. I retain useful information after an exam.

Where Do You Want to Go?

Think about how you answered the questions above. Be honest with yourself. On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate your level of academic achievement at this time?

A poor student An excellent student
1          2          3          4          5          6          7          8          9          10

In the following list, circle the three most important areas in which you think you can improve:

  • Preparing for class
  • Taking notes on your laptop
  • Listening in class
  • Using different systems for note taking
  • Using seat selection to your advantage
  • Remembering facts and figures
  • Listening to podcasts
  • Remembering ideas and concepts
  • Asking good questions
  • Choosing a memory method that’s right for you
  • Taking notes on paper
  • Using a memory system

Are there other areas in which you can improve your academic performance? Write down other things you feel you need to work on.





How to Get There

Here’s what we’ll work on in this chapter:

  • Setting yourself up for success by following the learning cycle
  • Listening actively
  • Listening in class
  • Asking good questions
  • Taking effective notes
  • Learning the principal note-taking methods
  • Modifying your note-taking methods to meet your learning style and your instructor’s approach to the material
  • Understanding how your memory works
  • Using your memory effectively
  • Learning memory-building tips

This Is Not Like High School; This Is Not Like Work

As you embark on your college career, you have found yourself in an environment like no other. You soon will discover the new social structure, you may be invigorated by a new freedom, and you may be daunted by the number of options you have for activities. We cover these nonacademic aspects of college life starting in Chapter 9 "The Social World of College". But for now, consider some of the differences between college classes and what you likely were used to in high school. These differences are important because they demand you change your behavior if you want to be a successful student.

Table 4.1 Differences between High School and College Classes

In High School In College
Your teacher would guide you and let you know when you were falling behind. You are expected to take responsibility for your academic success.
Your teacher would take attendance and report you when you were absent; the teacher would help you make up the material you missed. Your instructor rarely takes attendance but expects you to be in class and understand the material.
Your teacher would write assignments on the board and remind you to complete them. It is up to you to read, save, and follow the course syllabus and to know what material you must read and understand and by when. Since the syllabus makes this clear, instructors will rarely remind you of assignment due dates.
Each class would typically meet three to five times each week with minimal homework each night. Each class meets less frequently but requires much more work from each student. You should generally count on doing two to three hours of studying for each hour of class. What seems like an eight-hour work day may quickly become fourteen hours or more of academic work. Take responsibility for budgeting your time and not falling behind. In college it is much harder to catch up if you do get behind.
High school teachers are passionate about guiding their students and teaching them to learn. College instructors are often more passionate about their subject matter than they are about their teaching. But you can tap into their passion for what they are talking about and guide your own learning by asking questions, seeking advice during office hours, and participating in class discussions.
Daily homework assignments and unit quizzes contributed heavily to your grade. Oftentimes a teacher would offer extra credit opportunities to give students a chance to make up for lapses along the way. Your grade in a course may be determined primarily by one or two exams and a long-term project or paper. A subpar performance on a single exam or paper can really drag your grades down. Identify the assignments on the syllabus and get to work on them early and consistently. Don’t put off assignments or studying for tests until the last minute! In college, extra credit is not an option to fall back on!
You were told what you should study and when. You followed a predetermined curriculum set by state and local officials. Even your parents and guidance counselors had a major say in your “elective” choices. You determine what you want to learn. It is your education—not someone else’s. Find your passion and follow it! You will be a much better student if you do.