Back to Class: Note-Taking Skills

“Back to Class” means something different during a global pandemic. New face masks, hand sanitizer, laptops, and headphones fill online shopping carts, and thousands of educators nationwide are welcoming their students through a screen instead of in a classroom.

Nevertheless, faculty are as dedicated as ever to the success of their students. In a series of “Back to Class” posts, I’m sharing some resources that faculty can use with their students—whether in a classroom or a virtual learning environment—to support deeper engagement and learning.

In August, I shared resources you can use with your students to discuss the importance of a growth mindset and to help your students study smarter.

Note-taking Skills

I have recently received an influx of requests to help students take better notes—and actually use them. According to Brown, Roediger, & McDaniel (2014), getting new learning into your long-term memory is a three-step process:

1. Encoding of information
2. Consolidation
3. Retrieval

When should your students take notes?

The answer: whenever there is information being shared that will be important to remember. That could occur while reading for the course, or when listening to a lecture or presentation. This downloadable slide deck includes some useful information about the benefits of taking notes, as well as some note-taking tips you can share with your students.

This planning guide, Teaching Powerful Note-taking, can be used to help you motivate students to take notes.

Laurie Pendleton

Have a great class!


Laurie Pendleton, Executive Director of Curriculum and Assessment, ACUE






Video: College of Lake County Faculty Celebrate Teaching Excellence

It didn’t take long to see something special in the faculty cohort that launched ACUE’s Course in Effective Teaching Practices at the College of Lake County (CLC). 

“The level of collaboration, and even vulnerability and transparency, that this group of faculty had with each other just demonstrated to me how much they wanted to learn and help our students succeed,” said Kari Proft, an ACUE-credentialed instructor at CLC. 

Proft was one of nearly 60 faculty who recently completed ACUE’s year-long program at CLC; she also served as a co-facilitator for the course. In recent weeks, these educators reflected on the unique learning experience in a video, celebrated their accomplishments in a virtual graduation ceremony, and offered welcoming words of wisdom to the 2020-2021 faculty cohort. 

Proft and Michelle Proctor, CLC’s ACUE co-facilitator, initially planned to have just one 30-faculty cohort last fall, but doubled the size in response to interest and demand. The buzz came, in part, thanks to CLC President Lori Suddick, who encouraged faculty to participate, and through strategic recruitment efforts by CLC Faculty Development Chair and ACUE campus lead Page Wolf. 

Crystal Radcliffe, an ACUE-credentialed English instructor, said she was motivated to participate because of her passion for seeing her students transform over the course of a semester. 

“One of the most gratifying things about being a teacher is being able to see students grow,” said Radcliffe. “Being able to see students go from the very beginning of the semester to the end and see how much they’re able to achieve in such a short amount of time is really fulfilling.”

CLC, a comprehensive community college serving diverse communities in northeastern Illinois, is anchored by a mission to provide equitable high-quality learning experiences to students. Faculty say they are drawn to CLC’s student-focused culture. 

“Whatever hurdles stand in their way, we are willing to work with them in order to be able to break down those barriers and give them the resources they need to be successful,” said Jeff Varblow, an accounting instructor. 

Varblow said his own approach to teaching changed when he noticed that an ACUE-recommended practice that he implemented made a difference with his students. “I realized that as good as I thought I was, I can do so much more from a motivation perspective.” 

Last month, the CLC faculty participated in a virtual graduation ceremony, an event that they weren’t able to do after COVID shuttered college campuses across the country this spring. The event also served as an opportunity to welcome the 2020-2021 ACUE course-takers, who said they felt inspired to get started. 

“Congratulations faculty — we are proud of you and appreciate your dedication. Let’s keep this energy moving forward,” commented Suddick.