How to Optimize Your Learning with the Cornell Method: A Guide to Efficient Note-Taking
Frontal lessons are certainly the starting point of learning. In the classroom (physical or virtual), teachers tend to expose and clarify key concepts, providing an overview of the subject. Therefore, attending lessons helps to understand how to approach topics and how to deal with them in the best way. That's why taking notes and reviewing them later allows you to optimize the acquisition of concepts, as well as to save a lot of time.
However, often we limit ourselves to automatically annotating every single word spoken by the professor, without actually listening and receiving the content. This habit, however, may not be the right way to approach lessons!
Among the various effective methods that allow you to transform frontal lessons into a moment of active and fruitful learning, we propose the Cornell Method.
Let's see together what it is.
Mastering the Cornell Method Developed by Cornell University Professor Walter Pauk
The Cornell Method is a well-known system that allows you to take notes quickly and efficiently. Developed in the 1950s by Professor Walter Pauk of Cornell University, this method helps to keep attention high during classes, avoiding wasting time spent in class; in addition, it facilitates subsequent study phases, improving their quality.
The technique, suitable for both high school and university, was originally designed to be used with pen and paper, but PCs and tablets represent a valid alternative. In fact, digital devices allow you to format text easily and correct any errors quickly.
Keep reading to understand how to put it into practice!
How to Take Essential Notes with Three Simple Sections
The Cornell Method involves dividing a sheet of paper into three sections. The largest area is the central one: it occupies about ⅔ of the width of the page and is delimited by a vertical line on the left side. Here, notes should be written in the most essential way possible, using abbreviations (as long as they are understandable), arrows, lists, and symbols. This section will contain the main concepts, avoiding the mere transcription of the entire lesson. It is recommended to try to rework the concepts in your own words.
On the left, we find the area reserved for keywords. It is important to choose one or more terms that condense the content of the concepts contained in the right-hand section of the sheet. Not only that: it can also be useful to insert functional questions that can find an answer in the section dedicated to notes. This exercise can be carried out both during and immediately after the lesson.
The third and final section, at the bottom of the page, can be dedicated to a brief summary of the content, taking care not to copy the upper part word for word. Alternatively, this space can contain personal considerations, questions, or doubts.
The Power of the Cornell Methods Review Phase
The vertical division of the sheet provided by the Cornell Method allows to carry out the review phase in the best possible way. By hiding the right column, it will be useful to resume the topic starting from the keywords, or to answer the questions annotated on the left side of the page. In this way, the repetition of the notions will be more effective and stimulating, favoring active learning.
The Cornell Method is certainly a solution to integrate into one's study method, especially for those who have difficulty maintaining high attention during lessons, or for those who cannot benefit from traditional methods of taking notes. Having an effective method and being able to achieve an optimal degree of concentration are essential elements to achieve one's school and academic goals.