Using lecture notes

Many courses provide copies of lectures notes / outlines / presentations via the electronic learning system (Blackboard or webCT), and sometimes material is also available as a podcast.

Students become very anxious about ‘getting notes’ and collecting this material, and then fail to do anything useful with it. 

Essentially you are not examined on the content of lectures specifically.  You will never have an exam question that asks:  “In Dr Jones’ Philosophy lectures in the second term, how did he describe the role of…..”  However you will be expected to demonstrate your understanding of general concepts.

So once you have gathered / filed pages of printed lecture notes and presentations, here are a number of useful things to do with that information.

  • Summarise a paragraph / PowerPoint slide in as few words as possible, let’s say 8-12 words, what is it about, what does it say / mean?
  • Think of 2 or 3 real-life examples that illustrate the point that has been made.  Try and relate it to your situation / family /experience.
  • Make sure you understand and can answer the following questions about a topic:

  6 ? what, why, who, where, when, how?

  • Teach the content of the lecture to someone else.  This may be a real person (friend / long suffering family member / fellow student).  However it might be whoever happens to be on your bedroom wall at the moment…..
  • Pretend YOU are giving a lecture on this subject, how would you explain it?  (TIP:  sometimes it helps to physically walk around the room whilst you are doing this….)
  • Identify the three most important points of the lecture. 
  • If you had to argue against everything stated in the lecture, how would you do it?  Can you think of any examples or evidence?
  • Think about 3 different essay or exam titles that you think might be asked about this lecture.