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HAC/Library Academic Support Series: Organization/Note Taking/Reading Comprehension/Zotero (11/4)

Organization, Note Taking, Reading Comprehension and Zotero

Organization, Note Taking, Reading Comprehension and Zotero 

Table of Contents

Looking for tips and tricks to improve your academic organization? Click on the table of contents below to explore.


Ten (10) Tips for Organization

  1. Get Into a Routine
    1. Write down your weekly schedule on a whiteboard or calendar, then establish time blocks to be spent doing homework and other habits that you would like to stick to (i.e., meditation, working out, reading, etc.).
  2. Set Rules for Yourself
    1. Some rules you could set for yourself to stay on track might be:
      1. Complete all projects two days prior to the due date
      2. Start studying for tests one week in advance
      3. Finish essays three days before they are due
      4. Have a set bedtime and bedtime routine
        1. Have a set wake time and morning routine
  3. Write Everything Down
    1. Do not rely on your memory!
      1. This allows you to reference your writing as a way to double-check what you need to complete.
    2. Write down everything
      1. Homework assignments
      2. Test dates
      3. Essay topics
  4. Set Your Own Deadlines
    1. Plan ahead and complete assignments according to the due date you set for yourself
    2. Establishing an early due date will reduce your stress and prevent last minute work.  It also accounts for extra time in case the task takes longer than expected. 
  5. DON'T Multitask
    1. Multitasking seems like it would be beneficial because you ::could get more done in less time::. FALSE!
      1. Studies show multitaskers spend 50% more time trying to accomplish a task 
    2. Focus on one assignment at a time, and only turn your attention to the next task when you've completed the first
  6. Use Tools to Stay Organized
    1. Consider using these tools:
      1. Planner
      2. Multi-pocket backpack
      3. Pencil pouch
      4. Folder for loose papers
      5. Notebook for each class
  7. Use a Planner
    1. A planner allows you to visually see everything on your schedule.
    2. Write down all homework, projects and test due dates with one color
    3. Write down sports practices, extra curricular meetings and family obligations in a different color
    4. In class, place your planner on your desk so you can immediately write down anything the teacher mentions
    5. Digital options are also great possibilities (Google Calendar, Microsoft Calendar, etc.)
  8. Take Organized Notes
    1. Notes will only be useful if you record them with a method you can understand later.  
    2. Take a look at the note taking methods we love. 
  9. Color-Code and Label Everything
    1. Color-coding your materials is a visual cue that allows you to easily see what belongs together.
      1. Example: Buy a blue folder and notebook for MATH 113, a red folder and notebook for BIOL 123, and so on.
  10. Break Down Big Tasks into Smaller Ones
    1. Looking at everything you need to do for a large task, like writing an essay, can seem overwhelming and discouraging.  
    2. By breaking it down into easily manageable parts, you can work on parts of the assignment each day and not feel rushed.
      1. A breakdown for writing an essay could look like this:
        1. Pick your essay topic
        2. Read three articles on the topic
        3. Write your thesis statement
        4. Write your first main point
        5. Write your second main point
        6. Write your third main point
        7. Proofread the essay
        8. Finish Formatting
        9. Have a Writing Tutor look over your essay
        10. Turn it in

Reading Comprehension

How to Read Like a College Student

  1. Remember, multitasking is a myth  
    1. Reading while watching T.V. is not going to serve you, and it will end up costing you time.
  2. Read in a distraction-free zone
    1. Where?
      1. Quiet room (seriously, only soothing music, and no T.V.)
      2. Library study space or table on the second floor 
      3. Empty classroom (ideally where you will be taking the test)
    2. When?
      1. Before/during a meal
      2. After exercise
      3. Before/after class
    3. With what?
      1. Notebook, pen and highlighter
      2. NO internet or phones! (Set boundaries and expectations with family and friends to support your phone free moment)
    4. Why?
      1. Passing the class
      2. Set rewards for yourself:
        1. "I can get up and walk around once I've read 5 pages."
        2. "I can go out tonight once I get this read."
  3. When You Pick Up a Book, What Should You Do?
    1. Read the subtitles.  Which words stand out to you?
    2. Look at the table of contents (What is here?  How is it organized?) 
    3. Read introduction
    4. Read conclusion/summary
  4. Ask Questions
    1. You should have some questions.  Pay attention to them!  
    2. Here are some examples of what you could ask yourself:
      1. What is the difference between term A and term B?
      2. I've always wondered about _______.  How does the text explain it?
      3. How is this text organized?
      4. Will the text outline a problem or a solution?
      5. What can I expect to learn from this piece?
  5. Why Take Notes While Reading?
    1. Makes you an active reader (not sleepy)
    2. Transforms you from being "familiar" with the reading to "knowing" and "understanding" the reading
    3. Studying from notes is more manageable than studying from reading
  6. How to Take Notes While Reading?
    1. Some write in the margins:
      1. Engaging notes
      2. Questions
      3. Connections
      4. Star key points
    2. Some write an outline of the headers in a notebook
    3. Some draw concept maps (very similar to a mind map)

What to Do When Reading Gets Tough 

  1. Read it again
  2. Look for essential words
  3. Hold a mini review
  4. Read it out loud
  5. Talk to someone about the reading
  6. Stand up
  7. Skip around
  8. Find a tutor
  9. Use another text
  10. Note where you are getting stuck
  11. Take a break from reading 

Note Taking

Reasons for Developing Effective Note Taking Techniques

  1. Our Memory Fades Quickly

    1. For most students, forgetting occurs very rapidly after a lecture or reading over informational material, even if the material is engaging and interesting.
    2. After lectures, research shows that we forget
      1. 50% of what we hear within an HOUR
      2. More than 70% of what we hear within TWO days
  2. Encourages Concentration

    1. Taking effective notes requires a student to be mentally active during a lecture or while reading.
    2. One has to:
      1. Pay attention
      2. Interact with information
      3. Make decisions about what to record and write
    3. Because the mind is occupied with a demanding task, there is less opportunity for the mind to wander
  3. Records Testable Material

    1. Instructors generally expect students to remember and apply facts and ideas present in lecture or in texts
    2. Tests are based on key ideas teachers emphasize in their lectures and/or written material that supports key concepts or themes
    3. Taking effective notes will allow you the opportunity to review key ideas presented in lecture or in texts

Four (4) Types of Note Taking Techniques 

  1. Cornell Note Taking System

  2. Three- Column Note System

  3. The Outline Method/ Linear Method

  4. Mind Mapping

Key Components to Great Notes  

  1. Prepare Your Notepaper
    1. Decide which note taking style is going to work best for you and prepare accordingly 
    2. If using Cornell Method, for example, draw out your columns before you even begin taking notes 
  2. Summarize and Paraphrase
    1. Restate in your own words the facts and ideas presented 
    2. Record definitions as stated or written
  3. Indicate Changes in Topic with headings or by leaving a space between topics
  4. Number, Indent or Bullet key ideas presented with each topic
  5. Use BRIEF Sentences, Abbreviations and Symbols.
    1. This will increase your note taking speed
  6. Write Legibly so your notes make sense to you later
    1. This is why getting someone's notes when you miss class isn't very helpful
  7. Edit As Soon As Possible
    1. If you were rushing to take notes in class, it is best to rewrite them or write in the margins as soon as possible so you don't forget what you intended to write

How to Review Your Notes 

Now that you know how to take effective notes, the last step is to review them.

  1. A good guideline is to review nightly or several times during the week by reading them out loud, not rereading. 
    1. Remember, when we engage two or more senses at the same time (hearing, speaking) we are more likely to remember
  2. Frequent, brief review sessions aid more complete comprehension of the material than cramming the night before a quiz/test


Zotero Citation Tool

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Zotero is a citation management tool, an application that allows you to keep track of the sources you use, and when the time comes, generate the citations and bibliographies in the proper format (which you can select and change at any time!). It is best to begin using Zotero at the beginning of a research project, but once you've added it to your workflow, you'll end up working smarter. View the Quick Start Guide to learn more!

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