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What’s so notable about Cornell Notes?

By Chris Moura

Cornell Notes. We all know them, and of course, we all love them, but what do we know about their effectiveness? And where do they even come from? Cornell Notes were first conceptualized in 2010 as the reading and study center director, Walter Pauk, of Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, included how to follow the note-taking method in his best-selling book, How to Study in College.

Following that, since Cornell Notes were introduced to La Follette, one of the classic questions that many students ask is “how is this going to help us?”, and such a question is applied to why we need to take notes in such a formulated way. In one study reported by Wichita State University in 2010, they found that Cornell Notes are more effective for storing the knowledge in long-term memory and being able to recall it and apply it. However, the study also found that if a short-term, basic recollection is what is asked of students, a set of guided notes will do well enough. “I believe for some at LaFollette they [Cornell Notes] are beneficial, but I believe there should be other note-taking options available, as some students may find them not helpful and just boring busy-work,” Ethan Minter (11), who has been dealing with Cornell Notes since his sixth grade, said. Similar to many students at La Follette, Minter has his own gripes with the note-taking method. “Sometimes they can be very overbearing and tedious, especially when it comes to doing them all the time and when you have a large amount of information to read over,” he added. To mend this situation, some students offer up a solution. “I think that teachers should allow their students to take notes in whichever way is best for that student. Teachers who force a certain type of notes on their class is not fun,” Chloe Dille (10) said.

Unfortunately, all history courses at La Follette require students to take Cornell Notes to help them retain information from their textbooks and other readings, and while the Cornell-note taking method benefits some students, there are many different possibilities on ways we can store information in a summarized fashion. Similar to how we are able to choose how we study for tests, we as the students should be able to select how we want to record notes and take in information.

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