About Education: Essay #8, Two-column Notetaking Method

An effective method for taking notes from a high school teacher’s lectures, or from the lectures of a college professor, is called by some the “Two-column Notetaking Method.” The steps to this notetaking method are given, sequentially, below:

1. Before the student takes notes on a teacher’s lecture, he should draw a long line down the blank sheet of notebook paper. The line should be approximately 2 1/2 to 3 inches from the left side of paper.

2. The student should take notes on the right side of the line. He should repeat that line-drawing process for any subsequent pages that he might need to use to take notes from the lecture.

3. Immediately after the lecture, or soon thereafter, the student should re-read his notes on the right side of the line, and insert either (a) key words or (b) simple questions (which he has generated from the content of his lecture notes) in the left-side of the line drawn on each page. The key words or questions should correspond to the content that the student had taken previously in his notes.

4. For reviewing the content of his notes later in studying for a test, the student should fold the right side of the paper to the line on the page, exposing only the questions or key words (or cover the right side of the line with a book or paper) so that only the key words or questions appear vertically down each page.

5. The student, then, attempts to answer the questions he had previously generated on the left side of the page (or he should respond to the key words), while not looking at the content of his lecture notes on the right side of the page.

6. The student checks himself by unfolding the paper on the right side of the line to see if he had answered all of the specific questions correctly. If he did not answer a specific question correctly, he should re-read his notes that referred to that specific question on the right side of the line. He should put that specific content into his memory so that he can later answer that question correctly – when he self checks himself a second or third time.

7. One more suggestion: If the student cannot think of the answer to a specific question on the left-hand side of the notebook paper, then – when he opens the folded page to reveal the answer to that question in his notes on the right-hand side of the notebook page – he can thereafter highlight that part of his notes in yellow marker (easy to read through) which gives the answer to the missed question. Later, he will be able to review, additionally, by re-reading the previously missed highlighted yellow parts of his notes – specifically to reinforce the answers to all of his previously missed self-generated questions.

8. This process helps the student more easily recall his lecture notes for questions that might be generated by his teacher on quizzes or tests over the content the teacher had covered in class.

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