What strategies do you use for note-taking whilst reading?

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This post has 74 Replies | 14 Followers

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Cynthia in Florida | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Sep 19 2016 2:49 PM

Justin Gatlin:

It is worth noting that VARK is considered almost as unscientific as the left brain/right brain paradigm. Everyone is a mixture of types, and those types change over time and even based on what is being studied. Threads like this are valuable references because we all need many tools to approach many problems.

I would respectfully disagree.  But, the purpose of this thread is not to debate.  I was simply offering my knowledge on how we learn.  I have repeatedly said that I am NOT saying it's the end all be all.  While I would agree that there are a mixture of types of learners (few people are truly uni-modal, and most are bi-modal), the learning usually comprises a mixture of the VARK methods, as well as those I mentioned in my original post.

"According to Othman and Amiruddin (2010), the effectiveness of VARK model has been seen in a number of studies conducted worldwide. For instance, Piping (2005) conducted a study and proved that VARK learning style not only enhances students’ understanding but also raises learning motivation and interest among them. Prithard in 2005 observed that good learning depends on students’ learning style, and teaching materials used. Hence, the production of teaching materials needs to be heavily based on students’ learning styles."


[1] Fleming, N., and Bauma, D. (2006). Learning styles again: VARKing up the right tree. Educational developments SEDA 7 (4), pp 4-7. Website address: http://www.johnsilverio.com/EDUI6702/Fleming_VARK_learningstyles.pdf

[2] Israa, M.A., Majid, T.M., Charles, D., Safaa, A.,  Hamzeh, Y.Y. (2008). Problem-based learning (PBL): Assessing students’ learning preferences using VARK. Nurse Education Today 28, 572–579. doi:10.1016/j.nedt.2007.09.012

[3] Hawk, T.F., and Shah, A.J. (2007). Using Learning Style Instruments to Enhance Student Learning. Wiley online library. doi: 10.1111/j.1540-4609.2007.00125.x. website address: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1540-4609.2007.00125.x/full

[4] Othman, N., and Amiruddin, M.H. (2010). Different Perspectives of Learning Styles from VARK Model. Procedia Socia and behavioral sciences, 7. Pp 652–660. doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2010.10.088

[5] Steven K.K. Ng, Charles K.M. Chow, and David W.K. Chu. (2011). The Enhancement of Students’ Interests and Efficiency in Elementary Japanese Learning as a Second Language through Online Games with Special Reference to Their Learning Styles. Website address: http://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1007%2F978-3-642-22383-9_25.pdf


Romans 8:28-38

Posts 13399
Mark Barnes | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Sep 20 2016 2:05 AM

Cynthia in Florida:
I hope to hear your follow up to this thread, and what you have discovered in your pursuit of "learning better and remembering longer."

So far I've read the first three chapters, and it's been terrific so far. What I love about it most is that it tries to model the best ways of learning. For example, it says that repetition is important, along with coming back to a topic after a little while. As you read on, you notice that subtly, that's exactly what the book is doing — weaving earlier concepts into the narrative once again.

So far the main takeaway for me is this:

"When learning is harder, it’s stronger and lasts longer". Or, to put it another way from earlier in the book: "We are poor judges of when we are learning well and when we’re not. When the going is harder and slower and it doesn’t feel productive, we are drawn to strategies that feel more fruitful, unaware that the gains from these strategies are often temporary."

That's applied in different ways, of which the one I'm focusing on at the moment is this: "In virtually all areas of learning, you build better mastery when you use testing as a tool to identify and bring up your areas of weakness.… We know from empirical research that practicing retrieval makes learning stick far better than reexposure to the original material does."

So whilst I read this book, I'm not taking notes or summarising chapters as had recently been doing. Instead, I'm creating questions and answers in a flashcard app (AnkiApp, if you're interested), and quizzing myself periodically. It takes a similar length of time as writing a summary (and I'm capturing the same information), but the process does seem more geared towards retaining information in my brain, rather than just storing it electronically.

I'll keep you posted on how that goes…

Posts 3770
Francis | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Sep 20 2016 2:41 AM

Both what I read here and common sense, it is clear that there can be different goals in reading particular books. It would make sense that the kind of notes one takes be adapted to these goals. If you read to be transformed in some way or other, it will be important to take away key points and jot down responses. Other books may be read not for their own sake (for instance, reading some apocryphal resources, not to reflect on their message, but as insight into NT backgrounds), there I would tend to write chapter summaries and then observations on how the material relates to biblical texts. 

What I have often done and regretted doing is just jotting down random thoughts as they occurred in response to specific points and leaving it at that. Indeed, I found later that I could not remember the overall outlook of the book from this kind of notes alone. The extra step that is needed is review at the end of a chapter or book. One needs to make the conscious choice to write down something that is well-rounded (but does not need to be long or belaboured). This, BTW, is true too of books we read for transformation (not just information): taking even a short time to synthesise one's thoughts and evaluate at the end of chapters (or the book if it is quite short) is worthwhile as opposed to only taking notes along the way.  

Posts 809
Cynthia in Florida | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Sep 20 2016 10:39 AM

Mark:  It sounds like you are get a grasp on what works, specifically what works for you.

Certainly keep me posted on how using flash cards to quiz yourself works.  I use flash cards with my students (quizlet) as a tool.  Because writing it down with pen and paper works for me, if I am reading something that I want to really sink it, I make my own...the old fashion way, and sometimes will have my students do the same. 

However, for many types of information, there is a hierarchy, as the information is connected to other information and not simply random or isolated facts on a flash card.  I guess it would depend on what exactly you are reading, but I am curious to see how the flash cards work for you.  Do you plan on incorporating any other tools with that?


Romans 8:28-38

Posts 729
Hamilton Ramos | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Sep 20 2016 1:44 PM

in practical terms, spatial relations have been related to right hemisphere activity. Supposedly combat pilots have shown high use of right side of the brain, that allows them to do complicated maneuvers correctly in space and time. 

Same with artistic, creative, and synthetizing activities. Even boxers like Mayweather use right brain abilities in his profession.

scientific or not, there seems to be a relation to certain activities and particular sided of the brain.

it also happens that persons engaged in particular professions develop that side of the brain most used.

ideally one should develop as many areas as possible, and that is why hobbies that engage the side of the brain mot used at work is encouraged.


Posts 13399
Mark Barnes | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Sep 21 2016 7:48 AM

Cynthia in Florida:
However, for many types of information, there is a hierarchy, as the information is connected to other information and not simply random or isolated facts on a flash card. 

At the moment I see flashcards and book summaries as two different tools. Flash cards help me to retain information, whilst notes and book summaries help me to analyse information. (Although of course a well-written flashcard should do a little bit of analysing, and writing notes and book summaries will help me with retention.)

The important question is: "why am I reading this book?". For me, it's simply that I want to gain knowledge or understanding. With some books there's the additional aim of putting that knowledge into practice.

For those purposes, flashcards are sufficient, in my opinion. I don't actually need to retain the flow or hierarchy of Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning. I just need to remember the main points, and how those main points apply to my situation. Flashcards are fine for that.

If I was still in an academic setting, facing the possibility of writing an essay critiquing the book, then of course I would need much more. But just to learn from the book, and retain the most important lessons, flashcards are fine, I think.

Posts 809
Cynthia in Florida | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Sep 21 2016 8:08 AM

Wonderful!  I'm tickled that you found something that's working for you!

On the side, and I've wanted to say this five times now...I love the word WHILST!  I wish we Americans used it! Big Smile


Romans 8:28-38

Posts 510
Richard Villanueva | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Sep 21 2016 11:25 AM

Cynthia in Florida:
I love the word WHILST! 

To add to this already content-rich thread, I would agree with your assessment! Lol.  Don't hear "whilst" too much in Southern California, and I am tempted to add it to my vocabulary.  I enjoy reading the international interactions on the Forums.  The church is truly worldwide.

To keep it on-topic: THANK YOU to everyone posting and sharing links, pictures, and information.  I've gladly stolen some highlight setups (I'm ACTUALLY USING highlights and notes in Logos, finally!) adjusted some learning techniques, and helped ensure that Amazon stays in business by throwing money at them.

MBPro'12 / i5 / 8GB // 3.0 Scholars (Purple) / L6 & L7 Platinum, M&E Platinum, Anglican Bronze, P&C Silver / L8 Platinum, Academic Pro

Posts 56
Matthew Candler | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Jan 16 2017 7:17 PM

Mark, could you clarify for me the difference between the top and bottom panes on the left side of the screenshot? Are those two differing note files?

Posts 774
David A Egolf | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Jan 16 2017 7:53 PM

Since this thread came bubbling up to the top, I will mention an idea about highlighting which might be relevant. 

My Business Law instructor at Arizona State University, the late Dr. Claude Olney, published a course for students on how to study for better grades.  During the law course, he would throw in ideas from his course on learning.  His says that most students will highlight in order to draw visual attention to what they think is important.  Instead, he contends that one should highlight the areas which were either unclear to you or totally new.  Anything you already knew doesn't need to be revisited.

Posts 29279
Forum MVP
MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Jan 16 2017 9:38 PM

Reminds me of a philosophy graduate student who used only marginal symbols:

  • question mark
  • star
  • pitch fork (a.k.a. manure fork)

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

Posts 13399
Mark Barnes | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Jan 17 2017 1:34 AM

Matthew Candler:

Mark, could you clarify for me the difference between the top and bottom panes on the left side of the screenshot? Are those two differing note files?

Yes, those are two different notes files. When I really want to study a book deeply, I'll put all my highlighting in one note document, and create another notes document where I'll write a summary of the book.

Posts 15805
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Keep Smiling 4 Jesus :) | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Jan 17 2017 6:26 AM

Cynthia in Florida:
Also, as a teacher, I recommend The Way They Learn by Cynthia Tobias

Available in Vryso => The Way They Learn 

Searching Vyrso for "way learn" also found => Learning Styles (Imaginative, Analytic, Common Sense, Dynamic) with Seeing, Hearing, Moving methods.

Noet eBook search for "way learn" included => Teaching the Way Students Learn

After a sermon about prayer, spent time thinking about an acrostic that became 'What's Up?"

  • Worship (Adore)
  • Holy
  • Abide
  • Thanks
  • Sing (Same Speak Sin)
  • Us
  • Pray

Keep Smiling Smile

Posts 12
Frank Payne | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Jan 17 2017 7:50 AM

I've done this quite a bit. Highlight something I'm trying to understand a certain color and question mark. Interesting over time to see what thoughts you have had and how your thinking through that issue developed.

Posts 12
Frank Payne | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Jan 17 2017 8:10 AM

One can also click the panel of any book and check "show locator bar"." Once the locator bar shows up on your book, you will find information about your location in the book you are reading. The far right box is usually labeled "article" by default. It is a search engine for that book. If you click it you can change what you are searching. Your choices are by article, by page or by annotation. When annotation is selected, it will search any highlighting you have entered in that book. The bad part is you can only choose the nearest location above or below your reading page, but if you wnat to do a quick review, it is helpful

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