Advantages & Disadvantages of Structured Note Taking

Advantages & Disadvantages of Structured Note Taking

Keeping track of important details at school or work can be difficult if you don't have a system in place to help keep you organized. If you struggle with taking notes while sitting in a meeting or lecture, you may not have the right tools you need to listen to what is being said and transfer the information to paper.

Structured note taking is a good skill to learn for academic and professional work that can help you stay organized and follow along during meetings and classes. It involves following specific steps to take notes in academic and public lectures, meetings and discussions. In educational settings, teachers can advise students to take structured notes in class to help improve information retention and impart note-taking skills they can use in their professional lives.

1 Offers Flexibility

Different note taking structures present you with various options to suit a particular situation. For example, the Cornell method allows you to take notes in short form and reserve the left side for cues or keywords, while the "mapping" method allows you to create a visual relationship among ideas. Alternatively, you can use the sentence method, writing each important point as a new sentence and numbering your work as you progress. Learning different methods allows you to use the one that works best at the time and breaks the monotony of relying on one method.

2 Orderly Manner

Structured note taking allows you to organize your notes in a systematic manner. Each structure specifies point placement, and some allow room for you to scribble personal notes on the side. With practice, you learn to organize your work by placing the main idea in a central location and branch out supporting ideas, leaving room for additional notes if these help. A structure makes it convenient when studying notes later and allows you to share your notes with others who understand your note-taking structure.

3 Personal Preference

Structured note-taking does not work for everyone. A speaker or lecturer who insists on structured note-taking can inconvenience those who prefer listening attentively and referring to a written text later. Some students prefer scribbling points in a stream-of-consciousness way rather than following a rigid structure. If a teacher evaluates students on their structured note-taking, a student is forced out of his comfort zone in adapting to an unnatural way of internalizing information; this can affect his attitude toward the subject and can harm his performance.

Form Over Content

Taking structured notes requires more time than jotting down points as you absorb them. This can make it hard to keep up with a speaker, and you might miss important information in the process and lose your concentration as you focus on form rather than content. If you revert to your personal shorthand to keep up, it might be hard to decipher notes in the future.

Homero Navajas has been a professional writer since 2000. He has worked as an educator abroad and in the United States, and now writes academic research content, curriculum and assessment materials for several major educational publishers, including EBSCOhost, Compass Publishing, WestEd, Young Minds Inspired, SmarterBalanced and others. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in social psychology from the University of Washington, a master's degree in information sciences and educational technology from Mansfield University, and is certified to teach in Oregon and Washington