Visual note-taking

It took me rather a long time to notice that art was important to me, so I was that kid in class whose notes are words-only.  In art classes I had to change my ways of recording information.  There are strong trends, and it has been interesting in my first semester of teaching to figure out how to communicate them to my college students.

Some, of course, already get it quite thoroughly.  The department in which I’m teaching has a strong abroad program.  Creating their travelogue sketchbooks is a staple experience for our studio art majors.  To prepare them, I had the students take notes at several lectures this term.  Now they have illustrated notes from a panel discussion by writers for The Christian Science Monitor and an informative presentation on rattlesnakes.  (For the latter we teamed up with a class in the education department, and that allowed us to discuss our metacognitive process in useful but different terms.)

visual notes_dealing with china

Even if the drawings aren’t visually satisfying, the mere act and attempt keep you intensely focused on what you’re observing.  I have also found the idea that engaging multiple modes of learning simultaneously truly does increase retention.  Noting both the words and the visuals of an experience strengthens access to associated memory.  (Finally, they form entertaining souvenirs of lectures.)



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