Time for interaction 1

November 9, 2006

I read Bruce Charlton's article (Opinion, November 2) just after having politely declined a request to place all my lecture notes on Blackboard just because colleagues who teach on the students' other modules do this. I, like Charlton, desire the best learning experience for each student. Similarly, I believe a contributory factor to this being realised is students taking their own notes.

Students are penalised for failing to attend a minimum percentage of teaching sessions yet we afford them every incentive to do just this when we tell them that we will give them our lecture notes. My experience, shared by several other academics, is that, in lectures where they already have the notes, students sit back, relax and wait to be entertained. There is no incentive for them to concentrate because they believe that they have the necessary information in front of them.

A deeper understanding is achieved via active learning, and this process begins with making one's own notes that are personally meaningful. This is a fundamental scholarship skill in itself: learning what to keep and what to omit. My question is simple: why shouldn't we expect students to take their own notes?

Michael Sheard
Teesside University

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