Teaching and Learning Resources

Note-Taking Skills, Teaching

For most students, developing the skills necessary to learn effectively from lectures and classes is often frustrating. Many students are unaware, particularly in first year, of the purposes for note-taking in lectures and tutorials. They often assume it is about writing down everything that the instructor says rather than recording their understanding of the ideas and concepts discussed in class for future use such as essay writing, preparing to read, and studying for examinations and tests. In practice, achieving this purpose can be a challenge.

There are many strategies students can learn to gain the most from their notes. McMaster’s Student Success Centre offers a number of online resources to help improve students’ skills. 


Tips from the McMaster Community

My students just write or copy things down rather than listening in order to understand


Related Resources

Taking Lecture and Class Notes offers handouts, videos and learning links for students.

Building Your Note-Taking and Study Skills is a resource from the Centre for Teaching Excellence at the University of Waterloo.  It outlines how to take notes using strategies such as concept mapping and matrices, styles that address a number of student learning styles. Closely related to and crucial for effective note-taking is effective listening in lectures.

Listening and notetaking in lecture
, offers tips for your students to help improve their listening skills. Focused on the needs of students with learning disabilities,

Enhancing the Note-Taking Skills of Students with Mild Disabilities
, also offers valuable strategies for any student.