Note-taking is a key life skill. But it’s rarely taught and mostly acquired. So why is note-taking important? Well, for many reasons that we’ll outline in this post.
Note-taking captures information you see or hear during a presentation. And, by using effective note-taking practices, you can use it to aid your understanding, retain more information and save time.
And while it may take time to develop fluid skills in note-taking, there is no reason to delay picking up these skills. Students, especially, should understand why note-taking is important as early as possible. And that’s because it can support and enhance your learning during lectures and seminars.
So, to help you pick up the right note-taking skills during your studies, here are some reasons why note-taking is important.
What are the Key Reasons Why Note-Taking is Important?
- Enables You to Capture Every Point: Most of us speak faster than we can write, which is why effective note-taking strategies are essential to capture every point made.
- Aids Recall: Note-taking is a proven process that aids in recalling information, particularly when using handwritten notes.
- Aids Learning: Note-taking promotes ‘The Generation Effect’, which can boost your ability to store information in your memory.
- Helps to Develop Creativity: Using index cards to note ideas or concepts aids in creating new concepts or ways of thinking.
- Supports Reflection: Reflecting on what you’ve learned is much easier with an accurate set of notes to refer to.
5 Reasons why Note-Taking is Important
1. Enables You to Capture Every Point
Scribing down every word of a presentation is not only hard to do but it’s also inefficient. And in practice, it’s not the words that are most important but the meaning behind them.
In fact, students’ writing speed averages around 0.4. words per second. So in reality, there’s little hope of anyone keeping up with lecturers’ speaking rate of 2 to 3 words per second.
In practice, rather than stumble along trying to keep up, it’s better to develop techniques and strategies to help you capture the salient points. And with these techniques, you’ll eliminate any fluff or bluster and end up with what matters.
2. Aids Recall
Most of us can relate to the experience of ending a conversation and forgetting what the other person said. And with so many distractions around us, or thoughts in our minds, who can blame us.
But note-taking has the ability to focus your attention much better on the content of a discussion, presentation or lecture. Plus, it helps you absorb the information better.
Take the instance of a test sample of mock jurors, who had their note-taking abilities examined during a mock trial. Results indicated that those who engaged with note-taking had higher rates of recall than those who didn’t.
3. Aids Learning
Another helpful reason to answer the question ‘why is note-taking important’ is its ability to help you learn.
One way it can do this is through a process called the Generation Effect. And this is the concept of suggesting that, if you generate something from your own mind rather than simply read it off a page, you’ll be more likely to remember it.
In practice, using the Generation Effect during note-taking requires you to find synonyms, codes or words you can make your own. In essence, this allows you to adapt the material to suit your own style or preferences. And this act works to boost your memory.
The Generation Effect is actually a form of encoding, which is the first stage in your brain’s process of memorisation. And it precedes two other stages – storage and retrieval.
So, try using the Generation Effect to aid your memory during the encoding stage.
4. Helps Develop Creativity
Another advantage of note-taking is that it can help stimulate your cognitive functioning, helping you to spot connections between disparate points.
In essence, this is what lies at the heart of creativity and helps enhance your ability to generate new ideas or see new patterns.
One method you can apply to achieve this is Luhmann’s Zettelkasten or the ‘Slipbox’ method.
This is the act of using index cards to capture key points. And by capturing a summary of the points in one box, you’ll find it easier to join these unconnected concepts together to create new ideas.
5. Supports Reflection
Reflecting on what you’ve learnt will help to solidify your learning and enhance your memory storage. And the best way to reflect on what you’ve learnt is to refer back to notes taken during a session.
A study by Ozbay, 2005, found that note-taking is in fact a specific process that requires active cognitive processing. And it takes the form of several steps starting with listening, followed by comprehending then analysis and selection.
They also found that note-taking while listening provides a higher level of cognitive processing that engages other processes such as evaluation, interpretation and decision making.
And reflecting on this is much easier when you’ve taken a killer set of notes.
Note-Taking is a Critical Way to Enhance Your Learning
So, in answering the question ‘why is note-taking important’ we hope you’ll see that it’s not just important but essential to your learning to take notes. Particularly for any stage of learning, whether that’s in higher education, further education or work.
Taking notes during meetings, seminars or lectures engages a higher level of cognitive function. And it uses a specific process that improves your memory storage, recall and in turn your ability to learn and store information.
By finding the right method, technique or style that suits your learning needs, you’ll realise the benefits of note-taking in any context and want to apply them every time.