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.

Fancy a funded field study in India for course credit?

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Yep, you read that right.

The Department of Tourism, Sport and Hotel Management have an upcoming opportunity for students to go on a fully funded field studies course to India in Trimester 3.

This is offered as a free-choice elective, understanding and implementing the balance between sustainability, ethics and community-based ecotourism. While it is offered through the Department of Tourism, Sport and Hotel Management, students from any discipline are eligible to apply.

In fact, last year’s cohort included students from business, psychology, public relations, environment, education and human services, who described the trip as ‘life changing’. You can read Josie’s student blog for an account of her experience last year.


  • Duration: 3 weeks in country.
  • Date: Trimester 3, 2018 (dates to be confirmed, but most likely 18 Nov to 10 December).
  • Eligibility criteria: Open to undergraduate domestic students, 18 – 26 years old.
  • Credit: 10CP. The subject is ungraded, which means it’s a pass/fail and doesn’t affect overall GPA.

Students will spend three weeks in northern India at the Wildlife Institute of India in Dehradun, Jim Corbett National Park in Ramnagar, Ganga Aarti in Rishikesh and Jabarkhet Nature Reserve in Mussoorie. The field trip will be centered around short placements at different community-based ecotourism sites.

The field trip is designed to provide the students with a hands-on and very authentic learning experience. Students can expect to be astonished and inspired, but also challenged and, at times, to be uncomfortable.

The field trip is funded by the New Colombo Plan Mobility Program. The New Colombo Plan initiative aims to increase knowledge of the Indo Pacific in Australia by supporting Australian undergraduates to study and undertake internships in the region.

For further details, check the course’s PebblePad site. The course convener is Associate Professor Coghlan (


Get a head start with our Earlybird workshops

Quick quiz:

  • Are you starting uni this trimester?
  • Did you find last trimester’s study a challenge?
  • Do you want to further develop your learning skills?

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, our Earlybird workshops are perfect for you!

Prior to Trimester 1, 2018, we are offering the following Earlybird workshops free to Griffith students:

Strategies for study at university

Get an overview of university culture and expectations, and learn some helpful strategies for managing your time and studying effectively. Beginning the trimester with a head start on study and time management will make a world of difference, we promise!

Getting started on an ePortfolio with PebblePad

Learn about Griffith’s personal learning environment – PebblePad.

Researching and Referencing for your assignments

Being able to research and reference is a kinda crucial part of uni. If this seems daunting, come along to this workshop. You’ll gain awareness of the wide range of information resources available at Griffith and learn to identify the principles of referencing and the process of applying them within academic work.

Check out the times, dates, and locations, come along to a workshop, and start trimester one prepared for success!

7 tips to beat exam anxiety

The trimester’s almost over! Just a few exams and you’re done!

And while this summer weather’s beautiful and all, you’re totally devoting this week to studying and improving your course content knowledge, not improving your sun tan, right?

Though, no matter how prepared you are for an exam, you can’t help but feel some anxiety.

The butterflies in your stomach have multiplied, and the gentle fluttering has turned into frantic flapping.

It’s time to cite maybe the most hated meme ever: keep calm and carry on.

Here are 7 tips from ASAPThought to help you beat exam anxiety:

  1. 1. Get at least 6 hours of sleep before an exam.
  2. 2. Ensure you maintain a balanced diet in the lead up to your exams.
  3. 3. On exam day, have a breakfast high in fibre and carbs so that energy is released slowly and your brain doesn’t crash mid-exam!
  4. 4. Set realistic goals.
  5. 5. To help de-stress, imagine yourself in a happy moment–whatever that may be (your bed? #BedIsLife)–then quickly switch to imagining yourself in the exam room. This helps your brain to associate those happy feelings with the exam, and primes you to be ready.
  6. 6. Familiarise yourself with the exam location–if it’s somewhere you haven’t been before, take a short field trip to the location in advance. This will also help ensure you’re not late!
  7. 7. Write down any pre-exam insecurities on a piece of paper, and then right below write down a rebuttal that will help you feel confident. Then crumple up that piece of paper and throw it out!

It’s study week!

Welcome to study week! You know what that means…

Well, firstly, that you survived yet another trimester of teaching. Probably drinking a bit too much coffee, craving a bit more sleep, and relating a bit too closely to Student Problems memes.

Also: exams are looming! (please, foil your screams.)

Now, we’ve opened our libraries extended hours to ensure you have a study space you can settle in to. You could even book a group study space if you’ve arranged a study group.

You might even want to check out our Study Smart tutorial on time management to make sure you’re making the most of this week.

We know it’s a stressful time of trimester, so while you’re working hard, don’t forget to take a break where needed.

Take your eyes off the computer screen, walk outside, enjoy the fresh air, keep walking, don’t come back… Only kiddinggg! Please come back. Our librarians would miss seeing your friendly faces too much otherwise. Also: your degree; you’re dedicated to finishing that degree and you will totally nail your exams.

But seriously, get some fresh air, take a breather, remember to drink water and eat well!

All the best!

Using stats and need some last minute help… STAT?

Do you need to analyse stats in your classes this semester? SAGE can help get you over the line with that final assignment or upcoming exam.
With exams just around the corner, you may need all the help you can get (because of course you pre-planned your whole semester and don’t need any extra help… right?).

Even if you’re not currently studying stats, but statistical analysis really floats your boat (no judgement from us), this is a great tool to help you further develop your skills.

SAGE Research Methods Datasets is a collection of datasets to support independent learning of data analysis skills. They are particularly useful for practicing quantitative and qualitative analytical methods used in the social sciences.

The datasets are obtained from real research projects, but edited and cleaned for teaching purposes and usability.

Each dataset is accompanied by a short and clear description of the data, and easy to follow instructions on how to apply the research method.

SAGE also has a range of accompanying tools to support the use of these datasets. Some particularly helpful tools are:

  • Methods Map: you can explore the research methods terrain, read definitions of key terminology, and discover content relevant to your research methods journey.
  • Project Planner: this tool helps you plan out and progress through the stages of your research project. When you click on the link to the stage you are at it will give you a breakdown of the components of the stage, with links to further readings.
  • Which Stats Test: this tool helps you to narrow down the range of options for statistical testing though answering a series of questions, and help you decide on the most pertinent test for to use for your project.

Take a look at the SAGE Research Methods website for further tools and information

Catch up with Lecture Capture

You’re a student. You work hard, study hard, and enjoy a diet of mi goreng (and hopefully some more substantial food, too).

But sometimes life gets in the way. We get that occasionally you may get sick, get stuck in traffic (or stranded in a bus strike!), or just accidentally miss your 8am lecture.

With end of trimester fast approaching, we’re sure you want to catch up on any content you may have missed. Or simply revise before final exams.

Did you know you can watch Griffith University lectures online? Using Lecture Capture technology, lecturers make digital recordings of course material and deliver it to you via Learning@Griffith.

To access the recordings, simply log in to Learning@Griffith with your Griffith University username and password, and head on over to your course site.

For most recordings, you can choose whether to stream the lecture or download to your device. The streaming option allows you to view the recordings as a podcast (audio file) or vodcast (video file) online.

When you stream a recording you can search for text and bookmark important parts of each lecture; a super handy feature to have when it comes to exam revision time! You can even increase the speed of which you’re listening to the lecture, if you want to power through it.

The download option allows you to save a copy of the recording files (mp3 and m4v) to your device and play it without an Internet connection.

You can also listen to lecture recordings in a Learning Centre, Computer Lab or the Library. But be sure to use headphones so you don’t disturb those around you.

For more information about Lecture Capture, visit the Lecture Capture webpage. Or if you need IT support contact the IT Service Centre.