Note Taking Strategies

How you take and use your notes can make a difference in your success at Penn State World Campus. Use these note taking strategies to take clear notes, remember key course materials, and review your notes often.

This infographic can help you learn note taking strategies for your Penn State World Campus courses.

Why take notes?

Your online courses provide you with many opportunities to take notes. Sometimes, you'll read or listen to lectures online. Other times you may be reading textbooks. Strong note taking strategies can help you effectively retain the information that you receive and make it easier to locate that material when you come back to it.

Should I write or type notes?

Do you prefer to take notes on your laptop or hand write them? This can be an important choice. Studies show that handwriting notes can help you retain the information in more depth, but using a note taking tool such as OneNote (available in Office 365) is searchable and a good way to organize notes for many classes.

What method should I use?

You may try many different methods for taking notes depending on the subject matter. Here are a couple of examples:

The Cornell Method captures both detailed and broad information related to a subject. Setting up your notebook using this method is easy. Start by drawing a line across the bottom of the page, two inches from the bottom, and a line down the side, two and a half inches from the left edge of the paper. This approach is useful for organizing a lecture or chapter into notes that you can easily skim.

Mind Mapping is a visual method of note taking that shows the connections between complex ideas. In Mind Mapping, you start with a main concept and link smaller concepts to it. The process can help you trace out how different concepts are related to each other. This strategy works well for visual learners.