Anthony J. Pennings, PhD


Taking Notes

Notebooks (xx points)

You will maintain a written notebook of ideas, charts, lists, drawings, discussions, reflections, dialogue, mindmaps, cartoons, sketches, ruminations, schedules, criticisms, goals, etc. Date each entry for credit. Place date only on top of the page. Use a different page(s) for each day you want credit.

Why Take Notes?

“And there are two hypotheses to why note-taking is beneficial in the first place. The first idea is called the encoding hypothesis, which says that when a person is taking notes, “the processing that occurs” will improve “learning and retention.” The second, called the external-storage hypothesis, is that you learn by being able to look back at your notes, or even the notes of other people.” – Mueller and Oppenheimer

The third is the increase in positive mental momentum and curiosity. Taking notes focuses your mind. Interacting with the text on the page increases the number of thoughts engaged on that topic. Reading provokes a series of thoughts, one at a time, each one growing your interest and curiosity. Seventeen (17) seconds of focus will change your frame of mind. It will increase your energetic momentum and curiosity towards the topic.

If you are upset about something that might be distracting you, try 17 seconds of thinking about some neutral thoughts. This could be about nature (flowers, cats, dogs, oceans, waterfalls, etc.) or experiences from your past (vacations, friends, hobbies, etc). Add another 17 seconds for good measure. Invest 34 seconds to change your emotional outlook. After you feel calmer, you can put your attention on the topic. Hint, give yourself to make the emotional adjustment. Emotions follow thoughts.

Taking Notes

Using Mindmaps

Mind mapping is a valuable tool for higher education activities. Students can use them for notetaking and reviewing previous lectures. They can also be used for class exercises that stimulate creative thinking. Mind maps work by mental association. They have a magnetic quality where ideas and text attract similar thoughts. Therefore, they can be used to increase student concentration and focus as well as for note-taking and planning.

How Do Mind Maps Work?

Mind maps start in the middle of a page or document with a concise central idea and expand outward using keywords on branches. They move from the general to the specific, with details become more defined as the map expands outward. Fewer words are better than phrases or sentences, but every distinct keyword or grouping of words (or image) should be set on its own line. Be sure the lines are the same length as the word/image they support to conserve space.

It is important to economize on space as reaching the perimeter of the document/paper restricts your thinking. Mind maps are like your computer. They need lots of random access memory (RAM) to do more work. It is like a desk. The more room you have, the more activities you have on it. The larger the page, the more work you can do on it – and the more you can expand into your project’s details.

Some Good Mind Maps

Note-Taking – I decided to keep these images large.

mind map

Time Management

Time mgt

On Learning

Criteria for Note-taking


Additional notes:
– sufficient graphical design and layout
– mindmaps follow recommended structure
– addition of color to highlight and categorize
– doodles and artistic efforts
– professionalism indicated by legibility, organization, CARP
– choice of notebook, size, strength, color suitable for copying
– dates, on top of each page.
– neatness/legibility
– choice of content, review of major points, and relevant insights
– participation in exercises – lists, mindmaps, and other assignments
– listing of major objectives


AnthonybwAnthony J. Pennings, PhD is Professor at the Department of Technology and Society, State University of New York, Korea. Originally from New York, he started his academic career Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand before returning to New York to teach at Marist College and spending most of his career at New York University. He has also spent time at the East-West Center in Honolulu, Hawaii. When not in the Republic of Korea, he lives in Austin, Texas.

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  • About Me

    Professor at State University of New York (SUNY) Korea since 2016. Moved to Austin, Texas in August 2012 to join the Digital Media Management program at St. Edwards University. Spent the previous decade on the faculty at New York University teaching and researching information systems, digital economics, and strategic communications.

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