Midwifery — transition to first year

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(Embed video it is in Bb) Watch an introduction from the Sam

Why Note-Making is important.

Note-making is integral to all the work you will do as a student, from going to lectures and attending seminars to reading for research or revising. However, your notes will need to reflect what you need them for and what you are writing about. Before you start making notes on a piece of reading, it is important to think about what you want to learn and how you can best achieve your learning goal.

Note-making is important in getting the most out of the reading you do. Notes act as the first stage of your critical thinking and support you as you build your own ideas and develop your arguments.

(Embed text) Note-making with dual-coding and mind maps

Dual-coding is a note-making strategy that combines text and visuals to help to connect ideas and deepen your understanding. If you’ve ever used infographics to summarise processes, or mind-maps to review how ideas are connected, you’ve probably already dual coded without realising it!

There’s lots of information about dual coding available, and we’ll provide some further support in the links at the end of this post.

Read on to see us explain the process and demonstrate with a simple example.

What the research says

Paivio discovered that our brains can process both images and words simultaneously and there is also some evidence to suggest that this can be used to improve your study.

At its simplest meaning that if we want to recall something then if we have both the word and an image we have two ways of accessing that information. Not only can the information be accessed and recalled more easily, we are able to make connections between both of the formats to help us see more.

One way that you can practise using words and images in your notes simply by following these simple steps.

Step-by-step process of dual coding — see text explanation below
Step-by-step process of dual coding — see text explanation below
  1. Compare the visuals in your study materials to the text descriptions which accompany them.
  2. Explain the visuals again, using your own words.
  3. Draw new visuals to illustrate the text notes you have made.

In the next section, we’ll show you an example of this in practice.

An example of dual-coding

Here’s an example of how this might work. We’ll use this simple source text on the Industrial Revolution — you can view the full text on Wikipedia. As you can see, it’s a combination of words and images, so it’s a good source to dual-code. For the purposes of this example, imagine we’re reading this text to get an overview of the topic, and understand the key themes. For additional practice, work through the example with us as we go through it.

Screenshot of the Wikipedia Industrial Revolution webpage, showing text and photos
Screenshot of the Wikipedia Industrial Revolution webpage, showing text and photos

In practice, your process might look like this. You might start off by reading through your text — here it’s a webpage, but it could just as easily be a textbook or journal article.

  • As you take in the information, make written notes using your preferred style. How do you decide what to write and at what level? In this example, the text is quite long, with lots of illustrative images, and specialist detail in each section. Ask yourself: what is important? How will you use the notes in the future?
  • Return to the text and consider the diagrams and illustrations and how they support the content. In this example, there are lots of images showing illustrations from the time. Ask yourself: why are they there? What do you understand from them?
  • Next, try to articulate the purpose of the images, and the information they give you, in your own words. You might write some additional notes, or explain it out loud to yourself or a friend. In this example, the photos throughout the text give a visual feel for what Industrial Revolution-era work and life was like, and depict specific themes.
  • Then, draw new diagrams. The process of actively considering different kinds of ways of presenting information, and then creating your own, aids deep learning, promotes better understanding and will help you remember the information better in the longer term.

Here’s the mind-map we created after reading this text.

Mind-map displaying words and images related to the Industrial Revolution
Mind-map displaying words and images related to the Industrial Revolution

This example shows the same information from the original source text, but now it’s been simplified and dual-coded. By reinterpreting it, and choosing which parts to include and leave out, we’ve forced ourselves to summarise it, deciding which bits are relevant to our studies and which aren’t. Here, we started reading the text because we were looking for an overview of the topic, so we’ve focused on key themes to document in words and images. If you worked along with us and made your own example, you you may have focused on different information and designed a very different set of notes. We’ve thought about which information to include and which to discard, but also which bits we should draw out to see connections between them, and which bits we need to write more detailed notes about.

This example mind-map would be a great way to create overview or summary notes — for each of the topics on it, we might create another page of notes to go into more detail as we read other sources and learn more.


There are lots of images that you can use to represent information visually and it is the organisation of the information that is most valuable — not how pretty they are!

Anything from a mind map as you have seen above to timelines, diagrams, storyboards, and sketch notes.

Approaches and Templates: Finding what works for you

There are many different ways to makes notes. It is important to find an approach that works for you. This may be using pre-existing approaches or note-making templates, or creating your own.

To discover different ways you can make effective notes, work through our short interactive resource: ‘Note making: capturing what counts’.

Image of My Learning Essentials Note-Making online resource

(Embed text) Practice taking notes while reading

Why don’t you have a warm up with your note making while you are reading. We have selected a really useful article that highlights the skills that nurses have identified as being helpful to develop while they study at University.

Activity Read the article from the link below and take some notes as you read. Specifically to identify the skills that benefit nurses and midwives while they study at University.

Pryjmachuk, S., McWilliams, C., Hannity, B., Ellis, J. and Griffiths, J., 2019. Transitioning to university as a nursing student: thematic analysis of written reflections. Nurse Education Today, 74, pp.54–60.


What will do now?

Now you have completed that task, think about how you will approach note-making and what other skills will you prioritise in semester 1 of your course.

Writing down your goals can often mean that you are committed to reaching them. One resource to help you is “The big picture” which can help you identify what you might want to achieve over the coming weeks.

The big picture online resource
The Big Picture My Learning Essentials Resource

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