4.3 Task 2: Making effective notes
Notes should only include the main points.
Please read the following three sets of notes on the text from Task 1.
Health plays increasing role in our everyday lives: difficult to pick up a newspaper or magazine, listen to the television or radio, or visit a bookshop without being confronted with information on health or exhortations to avoid certain foods, take certain vitamins or minerals, take regular exercise. Everyone is concerned with health: we each seem to be responsible for whether or not we enjoy full, active, healthy lives.
Despite rhetoric of responsibility for oneself and one's health, a close look at the same sources tells us that atmospheric pollution is a major problem of the era and that it is largely responsible for breathing difficulties such as asthma in our cities. In the twenty-first century we are also witnessing widespread concerns about the health effects of genetically engineered food. The stresses and strains of everyday life cause many illnesses.
As individuals we are concerned to maximize our own health. However, these issues are also important for society as a whole. In Britain, around 7% of the Gross Domestic Product (an indicator of the nation's income) is spent on health care services.
Health: plays key role, wealth of information from media including advice on food, vitamins and exercise. Doctors, health care professionals and media interested: we can influence aspects of our health by improving lifestyle and changing habits. There are dangers to health such as atmospheric pollution, genetically engineered foods, stress in everyday living. Health is an important issue: 7% of Gross Domestic Income spent on health care issues. If people off sick working time lost: loss to businesses and economy.
Health: seen as more and more important by health professionals, government, media, individuals.
Advice widely available on changing individuals' lifestyles e.g. re food eaten, vitamins taken, exercise → implies that individuals are responsible for own health.
But: also information (from same sources) on factors not within our control: e.g. pollution, food (natural?), genetic causes of disease, stress.
Responsibility for health difficult to assess – complex factors – but importance clear for individuals and society: moral and economic reasons for keeping people as healthy as possible.
Which of these three examples do you think is most effective in summarising the main points of the text from Task 1: Notes 1, Notes 2 or Notes 3?
Notes 1 picks out the main ideas but often the exact words from the text have been copied. The writer has not shown that he or she can express the ideas in his or her own words. The notes are also too long. There is a lot of unnecessary detail.
Notes 2 include some of the main points but the writer has missed out some important points, e.g. the argument over who is responsible for health and how much control we have over our health.
Notes 3 are the most effective. They include the main points and the writer has shown that he or she understands the ideas by putting them in his or her own words and his or her style of note taking. Notes can be taken in different formats, for example lists – as shown here – or grids – especially useful for comparisons.
Which style of notes works best would depend on your task, the requirements of your faculty and, of course, your own style and preferences. These are just suggestions on how to organise notes effectively – there are also other styles which would work well depending on the information and the task you have been asked to carry out. Once you begin your studies, you will have access to further advice for effective note taking – see also Step 9 in this course. In the meantime, see some suggestions for further practice below.