Why Visual Note Taking Works for Some Students

Stine Arensbach's sketch noteStine Arensbach may at first remind you of that student that brings 15 different colored gel pens to lecture and no one can quite take seriously. But as an experienced visual strategist she contends that a visual style of note taking helps people make connections and effectively remember information. Some people learn by listening to a lecture while others need to actually do something to learn it. Others are strong visual learners and can greatly benefit from non-traditional note taking strategies.

At some point I started to add small doodles to my notes. Suddenly I could access my notes in a whole new way. The small doodles and icons also meant that I started to remember my notes without looking at them. I recalled the images easily and they became small hooks where text, stories, data and sound were attached.

Read more of Stine’s experiences and her argument for dual-coding here. You will find that the stigma surrounding gel pens is an unfair one.

Visual or graphic note taking is gaining greater popularity as a strategy for engaging with lectures and seminars. Today TED shared A Field Guide to Graphic Notes with tips and strategies for getting more out of your doodles including:

  1. The less you think about it, the better the result. If you concentrate too much on each task it becomes almost impossible. It’s like being in a state of flow.
  2. Illustrations are great to make your sketchnote engaging, but it’s more important to get the essence of the conversation, to get your structure right. Map out a start, middle and end and let your audience read the story you’re trying to tell.
  3. Don’t be afraid to stop and listen. You’ll usually be able to summarize two or three paragraphs into a few words and a nice illustration.

Please share the methods and strategies for note taking that work best for you in the comments section.

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