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Gail's Story


Gail is a second-semester freshman and works diligently. She is enrolled in an anthropology course. It is a large lecture class, and many of her friends are taking the course with her. Each class begins with announcements and then the professor takes about two minutes to describe the highlights of the film that will be shown that day. Each class is the same: announcements, overview, and film. When the lights go out and the film begins you can observe three different behaviors: (1) students get comfortable in the seats and are drawn into the film, (2) others recline in their seats and fall asleep, and (3) some quietly get up and leave the auditorium.

Gail is having trouble in this course. She has difficulty listening and understand what is important to concentrate on and remember from the film. She tried two different ways of dealing with this problem. One way was to relax and watch the movie and not even try to take notes. After the film she jotted down all she could remember. This was was not effective because after the movie she forgot a lot of the details she would probably need to know. The other way Gail took notes was to write as much as possible while the film was being shown. However, afterwards, there were so many notes that Gail didn't know how to sort out the important points for studying.

To make matters worse, Gail has trouble connecting the films with the textbook readings. She she reads she usually takes notes in her notebook or makes margin notes in the book. However, the written material seems totally unrelated to the film, and yet Gail knows there is a relationship. There are three exams including a final and a paper in the course. The exams are all multiple choice questions. Most of the questions on the previous tests were taken from the lecture and films.

Think about these questions and share your answers!

  • What specific strategies might you suggest to Gail in order to affect each of the problems identified?
  • What are the most difficult aspects of note-taking?
  • Describe your note-taking method
  • How do you know when your note-taking strategies are effective?
  • How and when do you use your notes?



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