• Using the Library

  • Effective Use of Lectures

    The purpose of a lecture

    The purpose of a lecture is not to give you all the information you need to pass your module. Lectures are starting points for your own reading unless you want low marks. Lectures are used for a variety of reasons:

    §To give an overview of a subject, in which case you will need to use your reading to fill in the detail.

    §To cover an important detail, in which case you will need to use your reading to put it into context and get the bigger picture.

    §To cover a conceptual idea and give one or two examples of it in practice - you will need to use your reading to find more examples to ensure you have grasped the concept fully.

    Whatever the purpose, you will need to be able to make effective notes.

    Before the lecture

    Most lecturers put their PowerPoint slides on the VLE before the lecture - it is worth looking through them beforehand to familiarise yourself with the general concepts and see how it fits in with the module as a whole. Even if you have not done the preparation, please still attend the lecture - by not attending you will miss out on two opportunities to learn rather than just one.

    Why make notes?

    Some people think it is OK to attend a lecture and not make any notes. To be truthful, listening and understanding is more important than making notes. It is also true that most lecturers make their PowerPoint slides available on the VLE before or immediately after the lecture and so there is no need to write down things that are already on the slides and available to you there. However, there are several reasons why taking lecture notes is beneficial, even if you have access to the slides online:

    § To emphasise the key points and get them clear in your own mind.

    § To help you engage with the material and not lose concentration.

    § To help you to make links between related ideas.

    § To allow you to make patterned notes/mind maps/illustrated notes etc. to suit your personal style and help recall.

    § To summarise information (best done soon after the lecture).

    § To make a note of anything you didn't understand or want to question further.

    § To make a note of anything you thought was really interesting and want to read more about.

    You need to review your notes at least once in the first 24-48 hours to ensure that the information will enter your long-term memory.

    • Effective Note Taking

      At undergraduate level, you will be expected to become increasingly responsible for your own learning; part of this process will involve developing your own strategies to help you learn efficiently.

      As you will be expected to make sense of many different pieces and types of information, note taking will become increasingly important. Through effective note taking you will be able to revisit and understand important pieces of information, whether from lectures, visiting speakers, or from research sources for essays, reports and dissertations.

      Taking notes from a book, journal or internet siteis easy if you know what you are doing. In order to make your notes productive and useful, it is crucial that you follow a few simple rules. Let us assume that you have found a relevant piece of text, and that you are wishing to make notes.

      Firstly, read through the text to make sure that it is truly relevant, then:

      · Decide which parts of the text will be of use.

      · Read these and make notes that inform you about what you are learning - do not just put the text in to your own words, instead write down important points which you understand.

      · Notes should only consist of key points not full sentences - you can revisit your notes and expand upon these when you are writing your essay, report or dissertation.

      · If you find a section of the text that will be useful to use word for word, then copy this, taking note of the relevant referencing information, and use it as a quote to back up your own points in the essay, report or dissertation

      Taking notes from a lecture is different from taking notes from a book. To begin with you do not have the ability to read and digest the information. Instead you will find that the lecture note taking process involves you often making instant decisions about what you will have to write down. The positive point to lecture note taking is that you will not have to find the material as the lecturer will be telling you all of the key points stage by stage. You may find it easier if you bring the relevant PowerPoint print-out with you to each lecture, and add your own notes to this - this will ease note taking and help you when you are 'typing up' your notes.

      The important thing to understand is that lecture notes must be useful to you. They are not there for anybody else's use so ensure that the method of note taking that you develop is the one that you are most comfortable with. For example, do not try to write down everything the lecturer says as invariably they will talk too fast for you to do this. Instead, listen to what is being said and write down only what you understand to be important.

      Each lecturer has his or her own habits when they come to presenting information. Try and recognise these early, and listen/watch to see how he/she emphasises important issues. Does he/she use hand gestures when emphasising, or does his/her voice change when they are making a point? The lecturer may say '...and this is important...' which is signalling to you that a note must be made of this, or he/she may repeat a piece of information almost as if he/she was dictating to you. 

      • Writing an Essay

      • Using a Figure

      • List of Figures

      • Using a Quote

      • The Bibliography

      • Using Paragraphs

      • Referencing and Research

      • The Dissertation

      • Using an Appendix


      • Plagiarism