Taking Notes in History

– Your professors are
likely to talk a lot. If you’ve been watching these videos, you’ve seen that that’s true. And you see that it’s just
a hazard of the profession. Professors are often talkers. You can’t take down everything. A good instructor will tell you, let me pause here and make a digression. You don’t have to note this, but it’s an interesting
aspect of this history that for some of you might be valuable, but for the rest, this isn’t something that I’m going to emphasize, so you don’t need to pay attention to it. That makes it easy to know what’s important and what isn’t. If that doesn’t happen, you’re kind of on your own. Part of being a successful student in history courses, or in any course, is knowing when you’re
not getting what you need, or you’re not sure you’re hearing what you need to hear. So when you’re listening to a lecture, and taking notes, always try to apply the same categories, the same questions that you’ll use to interrogate those notes later on when you’re studying for your exam. What did the professor say happened? What is his or her
explanation of what happened? Why did it happen? And why is it important,
what’s its significance? What does it mean? Always try to organize everything you hear into those three categories, interrogate it with those three questions, and you will learn better how to listen to a lecture, what to listen for, and what you can let go by, what you can let pass. If the detail gets to be too much, go to the textbook. Rely on the textbook to fill in the detail that the professor gives in class that you can’t take down. And if you’re still not satisfied, again, that’s the time
to make an appointment, go in, ask the professor, just to kind of clarify things. – [Carlie] This is the
first course I’m currently taking on the reformation. Okay, I’ve used the same
note-taking strategy for the entire time I’ve been here. One thing I tend to do … Let me see here, let me … I can read my handwriting, some people may not be able to, but as long as you can
read your own handwriting. One thing I make sure to do, okay, different class days
I start on a new page. And what a lot of people do, I call them communal notes, they might … this stopped here and they might like put
a date in the margin and then start the new
day’s notes over here. I personally don’t like to do that because even though you know that you’re starting you know a new date if you write it in the
margin or something, I find it’s overwhelming to look all of your notes at once like that, especially when you’re going back through all of them
studying for a mid-term. I find, you know, just
like a big blank space like this to kind of be refreshing. I can, you know, just
take a breath real quick. I know I can take a break in between the two class days, you know, if I want to stop for a little bit and I know it’s a good place to stop, because you know divided up between the two days. Another thing I think is
important when taking notes, and once again, it’s all what works for the individual person. I mean, this may not work for some people. But one thing I learned, I think starting 8th
grade, was indentation. And you know starting with,
you know, general overall theme and you know history
courses are structured in different ways, but then you know, talk about some of the basic points. And then if there’s, you know, something specific like this one about the sacrifice of martyrs, and then we talked about a primary source document that we read about that. And so another indentation. I always put Doc if we’re talking about a primary source document. Then talk about what it said, why it’s important, and if there’s something that I need to indent further, I do that. And then once you’re done, you know, talking about the document, you know, just right under this header. So I think that’s helpful, you know, when just trying to keep all of these different themes straight, you know, especially
when you’re in a thematic course and you’re bouncing
all over the place in different times and places. I think indentation helps, because when, if you just have them all on the one line, you know, the theme can kind of get lost in there. If you’re just looking at it all as one singular category. – [Laura] And this is an example of one of the notes I would make if I had been given an essay question or an idea of what an essay would be before the History test. So for example, I was given a question that asked: What were some of the key changes that led to and symbolized the French Revolution. So I went back through the notes I had taken in class, and instead of getting bogged
down in the details, I just picked out the big events and the key figures of the Revolution. And I put them in chronological order to kind of help me, even if I can’t remember the exact dates, then I always remember what, you know, the event, the order of certain events. – If you know what you’re supposed to look for, or listen for, and you’re not sure you’re finding it, you’re not sure you’re hearing it, that’s the time to ask
a question in class, or talk to your professor
privately afterward, if you’re uncomfortable
asking a question in class.

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