Having access to quality notes is, for most students, integral to the learning process. For some students, taking notes in class presents a barrier. When this is the case, note-taking is provided as an accommodation. The Disability Resource Center works with instructors to identify volunteer notetakers.
How to take good notes
Thank you for agreeing to share your notes. The notetaker provides equal access to the classroom by providing quality notes of classroom lectures to students with disabilities.
Notetakers who use the following information often improve dramatically in their note-taking skills as a result. Following the guidelines on this site and soliciting feedback from your professors will likely give you better notes to study for the rest of your college career and may even improve your GPA.
This site will cover the following information:
- General guidelines
- Mechanics of note-taking
- Additional strategies and techniques
- Final thoughts
If you have any questions, comments, or concerns after reviewing this information, contact the DRC.
- Be on time to class. Often, important information is given out just as the class begins, such as dates for an exam, cancellations, etc.
- Get feedback from professors and students. They can tell you how readable your notes are, and how well the content of your notes covers the material presented.
- Be unbiased. Do not let your opinions or attitudes show in the notes.
- Contact the DRC if you experience any difficulty.
Mechanics of Note Taking
- At the top of the FIRST page write:
Class name and number (e.g., ENGL 2337)
Date (very important)
Professor’s last name
Your name/NT (i.e., Jane Doe/NT)
- Number and date all subsequent pages in numerical order. This allows the student to keep track of notes easily.
- Make notes of any assignments given or dates for upcoming exams on top of the first or bottom of the last page.
- Use 8 1/2 x 11 inch paper (3-hole not spiral), one side only. This leaves the other side for the student to add notes later. Using one side only also ensures a cleaner, more readable copy.
- Leave plenty of white (blank) space. Do not write in the margins. It is difficult to read notes on a crowded page.
- Use a black pen. Black is easier to copy and to read. Note: When using self-carboning (carbonless) paper, write firmly to ensure good copies.
- Write legibly. Illegible notes are worthless.
- Leave blanks when you are unsure. You can go back later after checking with the professor or the text to fill in the blanks.
- Use correct spelling or write “SP?” to help you in re-checking spelling.
- If no notes are taken for a class period (e.g., if the class goes to the library for independent research), write at the top of the page the class, date, etc., as usual. Then write “NO NOTES” and briefly explain why.
- Remember to write down information that is written on the board or on overheads.
- Include information from videos in your notes. Videos are shown in class for a reason. While it is tempting to sit back and just watch, keep in mind that they contain important information.
Additional Strategies and Techniques
The specific note-taking strategies/techniques will depend somewhat upon the nature of the course, the professor, and the notetaker. Here are some general strategies and techniques to get you started.
- Get ready to listen as the professor walks into the room. Don’t wait until he/she officially begins class. Many professors do a brief recap of the last class or answer questions before starting that day’s lecture.
- Watch the professor/speaker closely. Physical cues can help you identify important points.
- Tune in for directions and cues regarding important information, both explicit and implicit.
- details repeated by the professor
- lists created by the professor
- names, dates, locations
- sentences beginning with or containing the following: results of, cause of, characteristics of, purpose for, criticisms include, contrasts, similarities, in summary
- anything spoken with emphasis or a change in voice inflection
- anything written on the board
- any information the professor says “will be on the test” or “you will see again”
- Listen to other students when they speak. Include what they say in the class notes. Do not leave points made during class discussion out of your notes. However, indicate that it was a student comment by starting with “S-” and putting brackets around the portion that is a student comment.
- Adapt the notes to each professor’s methods.
- Guard against tendency toward daydreaming.
- Learn to store information while writing for later clarification in the notes.
How do I provide copies of notes to the student(s)?
The student(s) and the notetaker are responsible for coming to an agreement about how notes will be copied.
DRC can provide carbonless paper to students using notetakers. It is the student’s responsibility to pick this up from the DRC office and give it to the notetaker. Notetakers and students with disabilities should work together to ensure that the supply does not run out. For example, if the student gives the notetaker an entire ream of paper, the notetaker should let the student know when it’s time to replenish the supply before the paper is gone.
If the notetaker is taking notes for more than one student in the same class, an option is to bring the notes to the DRC office to be copied.
What happens if the student doesn’t show up for class?
The notetaker is not responsible for giving the student notes when the student is not in class. The student is responsible for regularly attending class. Taking notes when the student is in class is an accommodation. Taking notes when the student is absent is a favor.
What if I need to miss a class?
If you know ahead of time that you are going to be absent, it is your responsibility to find someone who will be a substitute notetaker for you during your absence. If you do not have a substitute, please contact the student. Regular attendance on the part of the notetaker is an important factor in providing quality notes and continuity. If you are ill or an emergency arises that prevents you from attending class, please call the student and/or the DRC office as soon as possible so other arrangements can be made.
How can I check the effectiveness of my notes?
You should solicit feedback on the quality of your notes from the professor and student. Some professors or students may prefer to give you casual verbal feedback – some may give you written comments. You may want to double-check your notes with the professor several class periods before tests, quizzes or assignments.
If I have more questions, who can I contact?
For any questions or comments, contact the Disability Resource Center office.
The DRC appreciates you sharing your notes. You are an important part of making UA Little Rock fully accessible. Thank you!