Agony aunt

October 1, 1999

Q) My new students seem to write down every word that I say during lectures. Should I discourage this as I cannot believe it is productive for them?

Sally Brown

Director of membership services

Institute for Learning and Teaching

A) It is important to make a distinction between taking notes and making notes. Notes should be an aide memoire, something that will be a useful prompt to learning later. Making notes should be an active process. Taking notes is just passively writing down what someone else has said and learning at university level ought to godeeper than that. It needs to be an active integration with the lecturer. The trouble is that some students will have come from a study culture which has encouraged mass reproduction. It is your task to get themover that idea.

It is useful to ask yourself every ten minutes what are the students doing, and if you keep getting the same answer they are probably bored. It is very disconcerting to have a roomful of students looking down. You need to have eye contact with your students if they are to participate in learning and they cannot participate if all they are doing is writing.

Teaching problems?

Send them to The THES and our experts will answer them.

Write to Alison Utley

The THES Admiral House

66-68 East Smithfield London E1 9XY

Fax 0113 2502156

Email alison.utley@dial.pipex.com

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