Lots of people doodle absentmindedly while taking notes — one of the big “taboos” of note-taking in class. Though drawing is sometimes thought of as a way for someone to do anything other than actually pay attention and take notes, different ways of incorporating art and creativity into your note-taking can actually greatly help those who are visual learners.
In high school, doodling on your notes and work seemed to be the bane of every teacher’s existence, but for many, doodling while taking notes can be very helpful and may help commit the things you’re hearing and writing to memory. Doing something like idly drawing shapes, figures or even detailed drawings of whatever you want can help you to conceptualize what you’re hearing. In fact, this held true in a study from Applied Cognitive Psychology where people who were asked to “doodle” while they listened to information were able to more accurately recite what they heard as opposed to those who were not asked to do so. Drawing something helps lead the brain away from simply daydreaming if one is bored, which takes up more mental energy and ensures you won’t actually hear or remember a lecture. So next time you’re in class, draw some pretty doodles during your lectures. It might help you out more than you think.
Using different colors and styles of writing utensils while you write is another way of organizing your notes that can help you in your studying and note-taking abilities. Doing something, like color coordinating the headers of different topics in a lecture, can not only help you navigate your notes better afterward but might help keep your brain entertained. In trying to pick and decorate with different colors, your notes will be fun and interesting to take.
Taking notes on something such as a touch-screen laptop, notepad or tablet device has been growing steadily in popularity. Taking notes electronically expands your artistic and visual possibilities incredibly – where you may have only owned four different colored pens before, now you can choose the exact color you want a certain section to be and change the colors easily with just the tap of a button instead of having to pick up a whole new pen, uncap it, and repeat this process every time you want to switch colors. While many people prefer pen, marker, and paper for a number of reasons, extending from aesthetic to feel to memory function, those without a strong preference, may find that switching over to digital note-taking can expand possibilities in many different ways.
By: Laurel Gallaudet
Photo: D. Hudson