📄 Based on: R20–0707, NURS131000 [Medium session plan in draft]

In course content — folder called Practical and Professional Skills — then — folder called Professional Skills — then — the folders are arranged by Week this should go in Week 5(this week).


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(Embed text)Note-making is integral to all the work you will do as a student, whether this is going to lectures, attending seminars, 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) ACTIVITY: how do you make notes?(5 mins)

Add your experiences of note-making to the Jamboard, consider the following:

What note-making methods do you use?

How would you describe the content of your notes? Do you write everything down? How do you select what you note down?

What do you find useful when making notes?

Finding what note-making approach works for you

There are many different ways to make 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’. (Embed MLE Note-making resource)

Image of My Learning Essentials Note-Making online resource
Interactive resource on note making

Different approaches are suited to different tasks; this means you may want to vary how you make notes depending on what you are doing. The resource above gave small introductions to different approaches and how they can help with different types of work. Click on the links below to find out more about individual note-making approaches and download templates that you can use.

  1. Cornell Notes
  2. Know, Want to Know, Learnt (KWL)
  3. Know, Want to Know, How (KWH)

Note-making is an individual activity, take some time to find an approach that works for you and helps you get the most out of your academic reading.
— If you already have your own approach (which is great!), think about changes you may want to make to your approach based on everything you have read here.
— If you don’t have an approach you already use, think about which strategies you may start to use; or take elements from different strategies to create your own approach that works for you.

Note-making with dual-coding

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 this means 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 better understand.

The below steps outline how how can practise using dual coding in your notes

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.


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.

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 you are reading this text to get an overview of the topic, and understand the key themes that you might encounter later in my complex reading. 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. 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 aid your understanding as a reader. 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 in put dual-coding. If you worked along with us and made your own example, you might’ve focused on different information, and created a very different example. 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.

Practice part one(10 mins)

Practice taking notes. Go to your online course text:

Grotzinger, John P., and Thomas H. Jordan. Understanding Earth . 8th ed. New York: W.H. Freeman and Co., 2019.

Look at Fig12.19 , on Pg 356.

Using words can you describe what the figure depicts?

Practice part two(10 mins)

In the same book can you look at the words on Pg 363 and create an image to represent them.

Share pictures of your notes from both activities on our Jamboard here.


Notes are individual as they connect what you know to what you are learning and they can support you in developing a critical opinion. A structured approach to note-making can complement dual-coding and really begin to make your notes work for you. So think about how you could combine one of the the approaches mentioned at the beginning of the section with dual coding. Have a look at how you might start to organise your notes in this infographic.

(Embed infographic)

<div style="position: relative; width: 100%; height: 0; padding-top: 60.0000%;
padding-bottom: 48px; box-shadow: 0 2px 8px 0 rgba(63,69,81,0.16); margin-top: 1.6em; margin-bottom: 0.9em; overflow: hidden;
border-radius: 8px; will-change: transform;">
<iframe style="position: absolute; width: 100%; height: 100%; top: 0; left: 0; border: none; padding: 0;margin: 0;"
<a href="https:&#x2F;&#x2F;;design&#x2F;DAEItPPQjc4&#x2F;view?utm_content=DAEItPPQjc4&amp;utm_campaign=designshare&amp;utm_medium=embeds&amp;utm_source=link" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Note-making purposes and techniques that work best</a> by Student Team

Hear from other students

Listen to the Library Student team discuss their top ten tips for note-making.

(embed podcast)


What note-making tips are you most likely to try?

(Embed Menti)

<div style="position: relative; padding-bottom: 56.25%; padding-top: 35px; height: 0; overflow: hidden;"><iframe sandbox="allow-scripts allow-same-origin allow-presentation" allowfullscreen="true" allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" style="position: absolute; top: 0; left: 0; width: 100%; height: 100%;" width="420"></iframe></div>

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