Master the art of effective note making

It’s easy to take notes.

But figuring out how to make them a useful tool for study or assignment writing can be a whole different thing.

It’s important to ensure your notes are systematic, organised and help you effectively recall, understand and apply information.

Here’s some tips to help you improve your note making skills.

Have a purpose

The first step to making good notes is to know what you need them for and how you plan to use them.

If you are making notes from texts (like course readings, journal articles or books), you will need to understand the purpose of your notes. Is it for an assignment? If so, make sure you have read through the assessment task. That way, you know what kind of information to watch out for. It’s also a perfect time to employ your critical thinking skills!

Taking notes in a lecture? The purpose of your notes is to help you recall key points and relevant details about the lecture (usually for an exam!). If the information in the lecture is not available elsewhere (e.g. it’s not in the PowerPoint slides or course readings) then your notes will need to be as detailed as possible. However, if the information is available then you will need to focus on the points or issues highlighted by the lecturer.

Find a technique that works for you

There are many different note taking techniques. Find one that works for you!

Underlining and highlighting are two well-known techniques. Use them to draw attention to the main points in a text or to stress unfamiliar words or definitions that you want to follow up on later.

But don’t overdo it. If everything is emphasised, nothing will stand out.

Review and improve your notes

Review and improve your notes so they are ready to use when studying or writing your assignment.

Check the information is relevant and useful for its intended purpose. Think about how your notes fit in with other information you have on the topic. Does it build on, support or extend your ideas and knowledge?

Reflect on the reading or lecture. Do you need to consider other perspectives or find more information?

Make your notes visual

Use a visual tool to organise your notes. Visual tools can help you summarise information, find links and gaps, think critically and understand the content.

Here are three visual tools that you may find useful:

  1. 1. Concept maps can help you brainstorm, connect, communicate and expand on ideas.
  2. 2. Tables can help you track ideas and determine how they are related.
  3. 3. Timelines can help you see when key events happened. This allows you to link ideas and connect events.

For more study tips, check out our Study Smart tutorial.

Check out The Learning Space

Did you know Griffith is also at Westfield Garden City? Well, maybe we don’t have a campus there, but we do have a Learning Space.

The Learning Space is a community partnership between Westfield Garden City and Griffith University. It provides relevant, interesting and useful activities for the community, such as:

Community Events

Check out the community events being held at the Learning Space – you’ll find new workshops are always being added! Currently, you can find out about groundbreaking scientific research, or join in the excitement of National Science Week with a series of activities.

School Holiday Activities

Have a younger sibling, child, niece or nephew? The days of boring school holidays are over, with the Learning Space’s range of free activities on offer during the school breaks. Book them in for one of the sessions, and catch up on all the shopping (ahem, errands) you’ve been meaning to do.

Research Space

Are you a budding researcher? Then you should book the Research Space! Griffith students and staff are able to reserve it Thursdays from 10am to 1pm to set up survey stations, focus groups or other research activities and tap into Garden City’s 17 million visits per year.

Griffith Flicks

Ever wondered what our Griffith film students got up to? They sure are a talented bunch, so why not come along and watch some of their animations? Griffith Flicks is regularly held, and presents Griffith animation films to the public.

The Learning Space is located on Level 2 of Westfield Garden City, Upper Mt Gravatt.  So drop on by and say hi!

Lightning Talks: smashing myths at Logan

Photo of Griffith University, Logan Campus sign.

The first in our series of Lightning Talks at Logan campus library went off with a bang!

Over 40 people gathered in the Lounge area to hear three accomplished speakers share their journeys into higher education and their research passions.

Professor Lesley Chenoweth spoke candidly about being first-in-family to attend university. She also passionately discussed Logan Together; a project whose vision is ‘to offer every child in Logan, whatever their circumstances, every opportunity to grow and reach their potential’.

Dr Abdi Hersi followed with a very enlightening talk about Muslims and the Islamic faith. He put to bed some myths surrounding their integration into Australian society.

Did you know, for instance, that Muslim Australians come from all over the world? According to the Australian Human Rights Commission, Muslim Australians are not a homogenous group.

They come from a variety of countries; from Lebanon and Turkey to Bangladesh and Fiji. And interestingly, over a third are Australian-born (that’s around 100,000 people).

The final speaker, Dr Adele Pavlidis, questioned why so many people, women in particular, drop out of playing sport in adulthood. Only three or four audience members indicated that they still currently played a sport!

She spoke about the role of sports in community building and challenged our thinking about the norms of gender segregation in Australian sport. By the end of her talk, she had many of the audience members itching to get back on the court or sports field.

The Lightning Talks at Logan broke down some ivory towers and allowed very important research to be communicated to a broader audience.

Dr Pavlidis said it was ‘so great to be able to share some of my research with a broader audience and see it resonate – you just don’t get the same kind of feedback from journal reviewers!’.

And it wasn’t just the academics who benefited from the event. ‘I did enjoy the talks yesterday, something’s I could relate to fully,’ said one of the students. Another student said the Lightning Talks were inspirational and they were looking forward to the next round.

Will there be a next round? We’ll keep you posted.

Keep those brains ticking this break

Exams are over and assignments are well and truly submitted, which means it’s time to relax. But wait! Before you completely switch off remember, your brain is a muscle and summer is the perfect time to plan some fun educational outings to exercise it!

So, because we know you love to learn here are some ideas to keep your brain active…


shutterstock_102363169Here’s a novel idea. Learn from these top books.

If you’re looking for some literary inspo why not try these thought-provoking reads. The Guardian has listed 20 books that changed the world, which you can access via the Library.




Learn from someone else’s experience

Attend The 2015 Griffith Lecture with Peter Greste to learn about Free speech in the age of terror.



Add to your skill set

Explore your creative side with a QCA short course. Who knows what hidden talents you might discover! Whether you’re interested in photography or design there is something for even the most creatively challenged among us.

Prepare for next year

Pencil in your Eaphoto-1430826473320-fc1ccf2ce791rlybird 2016 workshops. Whether you’re a first, second or third year student the Earlybird Workshops are the perfect opportunity for a little prep work. These FREE workshops offer study strategies, research tips and an intro to Griffith’s online environment. They’ll kick off on 15 February, see the full schedule here.


Screen Shot 2015-12-02 at 2.27.52 pmLet your knowledge grow roots

If you’re looking to develop your green thumb or have noticed the wonderful plant life on campus, then Grows at Griffith is the app for you. Griffith’s Environmental School has developed a wonderful landscape to explore via the app that showcases the diverse ecosystem on Griffith’s campuses.


Cultural learning

shutterstock_64972783QCA is a top place to start if you’re looking for some culture this break. They offer a range of exhibitions to showcase your fellow students’ incredible talents. PLUS it’s in the heart of South-bank so you’ll find a great place for a feed after you’ve finished getting all cultured. Follow their Facebook for all the latest events and news.


Light readishutterstock_179149739ng (on the beach of course)

The Library’s PressReader has thousands of publications that are both entertaining and enlightening. Why not take a look at Yen magazine for those smart creative cookies who are looking to revamp their rooms or dip dye their hair. Or check out the official Playstation Magazine for gaming reviews and how you could win a BB-8 Driod!


We’d love to hear about your summer plans! let us know below how you’re keeping your brain active this break.

But whatever you do, enjoy those summer vibes!

How to learn a new skill in your study break

Study break learning

There are many ways to learn a new skill. You can attend a class, read a book or even take a webinar.

Or you can put that smartphone of yours to really good use and download one of the many educational apps available online. This means you can learn when you want, for as long as you want – even during one of your short study breaks!

Whether you have 10 minutes or an hour, here is a selection of apps to help you learn to fold origami, speak a language or draw amazing art.



Duolingo – Learn Languages for Free

By Duolingo

Cost: Free

Available: iTunes and Google Play

Duolingo is Apple’s iPhone App of the Year! Learn Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, Italian, Irish, Dutch, Danish, Swedish, and English. Totally fun. Totally free. Yeah, it’s pretty sweet.

How to Draw – Free Drawing Lessons

By Pacific Spirit Media

Cost: Free

Available: iTunes and Google Play

Learn to draw faces, doodles, cartoon characters, the human body or street scenes.

It’s free and fun. There are simple instructions for kids as well as more advanced tips for teens and adults. Download and start drawing now!

How to Make Origami

By Sergey Burlakov

Cost: Free

Available: iTunes and Google Play

Remember making paper airplanes at school? And remember how someone, instead of an airplane, made a flower, a jumping frog, or a parrot? That was like magic. And they only had their two hands and a plain piece of paper. How did they do it? We’ll show you how.