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February 04, 2014

Final Entry on Reading and note–making

Follow-up to Update to Action Point 3 of Reading and note–making from David's blog

In this entry I will summarise what I have learned from the reading and note-making workshop over the past few weeks and discuss the three action points since the workshop.

1. My first action point was to improve the speed at which I read.

Having been a slow reader for a long time, I found it difficult to fly through a book without stopping, restarting and getting hampered with details. However ever since the workshop I have found a slight improvement in my reading in certain areas.

I tried scanning, skimming and close reading during seminar and casual reading. I found that when I gave myself I deadline, such was the case with seminars, I tended to read quicker than usual and get the core ideas from my readings. In contrast when there was a much longer period to do the reading in, I found I was less focussed and took much longer. However, with the help of the scanning, skimming and finger following technique (as well as encouragement from one of my History tutors) overall I have at least been open to new ways of readings. Most importantly, I have found that there are different ways to read for different purposes. Thus, I believe overall I have found a slight improvement in the speed of my reading.

2. My second action point was to review my notes on a regular basis.

Before I usually took notes and then quickly filed them away and in turn usually forgot what I wrote about quite quickly. Thus, this action point was perhaps the most useful point I took from the workshop overall.

Re -reading my notes after taking them and then looking over them later in the evenings has been my most effective change since the workshop. Re-reading my notes has helped me remember a lot more than before and has contributed substantially to my learning. Looking over notes at least twice the same day I write them (once after writing them and then once in the evenings), has been a highly useful discipline as it allows me to think over and form my ideas more coherently.

3. My third action point was to make brief and concise notes.

This was the hardest action point to follow as I found it very difficult to change my notemaking style. A blank piece of paper would always intimidate me and force me to write long winded notes entangled with details and examples.

During the weeks after the seminar I tried different approaches to taking notes. Although I have used increaslingly more shapes and abbreviating techniques which has worked to condense my seminar reading notes, I have found if harder to shorten my dissertation notes. With the dissertation deadline a long way off, I have found I lose my focus for concise notes more easily. However, all in all I would say my note-making as a whole has improved nonetheless. I will have to work on my dissertation notes more thoroughly as the deadline approaches.

To conclude, I found the reading and note-making workshop quite useful. Reviewing my notes on a regular basis has in particular, really improved my learning and retention for information. With an improved ability for retention, I have also noticed an improvement in my application of historical information.

Although speed reading is still a challenge for me, I have learned that I can at least use different reading techniques for different purposes (e.g scan reading or light close reading). Likewise, my note-making is improving slowly, and with a little work at it, I believe I can compress my notes even further in the future.

January 23, 2014

Update to Action Point 3 of Reading and note–making

Follow-up to First entry on Reading and note–making from David's blog

My third action point was to reduce the amount and wrote and make my notes more concise. In the last few weeks since the workshop on reading and note-making I have vastly improved my note-making.

In the last weeks leading up to term and the start of term, I have made my notes for seminars or general work shorter and to the point. I have also introduced techniques such as abbreviations and key words in order to shorten my notes so that they do not become intimidating to read over. I have also taken up the technique of using arrows as short cuts and links.

I have also found that shortening my notes has allowed more space on the page for my own thoughts in conjuction with what I have read. This has allowed me to make my notes much more effective as not only do they include the thoughts and concepts of the author but also my own thoughts on the general topic.

January 11, 2014

Update to Action Point 2 of Reading and note–making

Follow-up to First entry on Reading and note–making from David's blog

My second action was to review my notes after having written them and also to review them on a regular basis.

Over the last few weeks I have tried to review my notes just after writing them in order to freshen my ideas. Although I struggled to take as many notes as I wanted to over the holidays, I always reviewed my notes before putting them away in my folder. I found it very useful reviewing my notes immediately after writing as it allowed me to think over what I had just written and what I found important about my reading.

Likewise, reviewing notes allowed me to process information for a second or third time in turn making it a lot easier to recall later what I had learned. Reviewing my notes also helped me point out mistakes in my note-making such as spelling or bad structuring of sentences - errosI would have otherwise looked over the first time.

If I could change anything I would have also reviewed my notes more regulary in the evenings in order to process information an additional time. The instances where I overlooked my notes during the evening, helped me to remember my notes a lot more than on the occasions where I did not. Unfortunately, during the Christmas holidays there were far too many occasions where I was out or unable to look over my notes during the evening and thus my retention for information suffered slightly.

That said, now that I know that reviewing notes does indeed help me to remember important facts, I will plan to review my notes even more regularly. I plan to review my notes not only after every note taking session but also during the evenings.

January 09, 2014

Update to Action Point 1 of Reading and note–making

Follow-up to First entry on Reading and note–making from David's blog

  1. My First Action Point was to try and read quicker than my usual reading speed in opening 2 to 3 weeks of the Christmas holiday.

During my Christmas holidays I read not only within my field of study but also surrounding it and outside it. Although I planned to use the finger pointing technique, which did work, I quickly found that I could read just as quickly without it. Like the finger technique I simply did not allow myself to stop reading and continued without halt. Known as scanning, I found that using this technique allowed me to get through much more reading than usual and at a much quicker pace.

Once I used this technique with work-related reading, I found it easier to read for pleasure too even though I usually take more time. Since starting back at Warwick, I have found that scanning has been particularly useful for seminar reading in which you need to get the core information from multiple readings. I plan to use scanning as well as skimming (an even quicker reading technique) for future work during this term.

December 04, 2013

First entry on Reading and note–making

Workshop Tutor: Dr Amanda Randall


In the reading and notemaking seminar we discussed reading and notemaking techniques which can help in different situations. We discussed what the purpose of notes were and in what ways we could improve both reading speed and notemaking effiiciency.

We explored various techniques of notemaking such as linear notes, the cornell system, spider diagrams and mind maps. We then explored the differences scanning, skimming and close reading and how we can benefit from reading strategically for whatever purpose we have.

We were then given an exercise which involved reading and notemaking in order to help us improve our technique. We were encouraged to use another approach than normal in order to benefit from different techniques. As a person who usually writes too many notes and reads very slowly, I believe I was successful in reading the article quickly and getting brief but concise information from it.

Having considered the seminar as a whole, I was surprised but encouraged by the different techniques there are. I will now set out my action points for the coming weeks to improve my reading and notemaking.


  1. My First Action Point will be to try to read quicker than my usual reading speed in the next 2 to 3 weeks during my holidays.

    I plan to use the pointer or finger technique in order to read concisely but quickly. I will also try both skim reading and scanning in order to find potentially important information for my courses.

  2. My Second Action point is to review the notes I make on a regular basis for the next 4 to 5 weeks (in the run up to next term).

    After a notemaking session, I plan to look over my page of notes in order that I can process and think through my notes for a second time. I will then look back and read them over after making new notes.

  3. My Third Action Point will be to take brief and concise notes for the next 6 weeks in the run up to and the start of next term.

    I aim to avoid writing examples in my notes unless I see them as absolutely necessary. I will also try to use abbreviations and shorter sentences.

  4. NA

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  • Hello David, Thanks for writing such a reflective final entry for the WSPA – what a pleasure to read… by Lisa Faulkner on this entry
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