Helpful Hints for Notetakers
Florida Atlantic University
An Informational Brochure from the
Student Accessibility Services
Division of Student Affairs
WHY DOES THE STUDENT NEED MY NOTES?
You have been asked to provide a copy of your notes to a student with a disability who is in your class. The nature of the disability makes it difficult for the student to take notes. For your information:
- Has a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits at least one major life activity, including (but not limited to) walking, seeing, speaking, hearing, breathing, learning, care for one’s self, and interacting with others.
- Has a record of such impairment or
- Is regarded by others as having such an impairment.
Your notes are a valuable aid for the student with a disability. You may find that by taking careful notes and using the following suggestions, your notes will be better, clearer and more useful to you personally.
WHAT EXACTLY AM I VOLUNTEERING?
You are only volunteering your notes. If you are registered with the Volunteer Center, you will be amassing hours just by taking notes in class. It’s that easy!
You are not volunteering your time in any other way. You are not expected to meet with the student for study sessions. You are not expected to tutor. You are not expected to sit together in class. You are only providing notes which the student with a disability can use. If you decide you want to help the student in any other capacity that is your decision alone.
HELPFUL HINTS FOR NOTETAKING
Below are some helpful hints to make your notes more useful for someone else and maybe for you too!
Provide backdated notes of lectures given before you began notetaking. Label each set of notes with the lecture title, date, and number of pages.
Write as many meaningful facts and details as you can:
- Write down everything the professor writes on the board. The professor must think that information is important.
- Record all technical facts, names, dates, equations, diagrams and examples.
- Note clues the professor gives indicating that something is important, such as the repetition of a definition or point of information, change of voice, body language, verbal cues, etc.
Listen intently from the beginning of the lecture. The professor may outline the lecture in the first few minutes and often will make sure that important details that have not been explained are covered in the last 5-10 minutes.
Plan ahead for future absences. Please ask a friend or classmate ahead of time to assist you in this any regard.
Circle or star (*) assignments & announcements, such as test dates.
Reading the text and reviewing your notes before class will improve your understanding of the lecture.
Make the notes easier to read and more effective as a study aid by:
- Using one side of the paper only
- Using dark, ball point pen
- Writing legibly
- Leaving blanks when you are unsure (get clarification from the professor after class)
- Using correct spelling (if unsure of a word, write “sp” above the word and correct it later)
- Using white space effectively (separate main ideas and other topics from the supporting details with a line or two)
- Marking points of emphasis (change the print, circle, underline, use stars, etc.)
- Underlining definitions and including them verbatim
- Using abbreviations carefully (make a list at the beginning or end of your notes as to unusual abbreviations you used and what they represent)
CAN I KNOW MORE ABOUT THE STUDENT?
In the Student Accessibility Services (SAS), you will learn the student’s first name and the first initial of the student’s last name. Due to certain federal laws which protect the student’s anonymity, other facts, such as the student’s full name and disability, are not disclosed. Many students with disabilities choose to remain anonymous and don’t identify themselves to their notetakers. However, some students with disabilities want their notetakers to know who they are. You may find that the student who you’re helping might one day approach you and tell you more about him or herself.
HOW DO I SHARE MY NOTES?
Decide how you will get copies of your notes to SAS. We suggest four options:
- Copy them at SAS at no charge.
- Use NCR (carbonless paper) that provides a copy that you can tear off in class and give to the student there, if you already know who the student is (or you can give the copies to your professor to pass on to the student).
- E-mail the notes.
- Fax the notes.
Deliver your notes within 24 hours to SAS and no later than 48 hours. Generally, the student you’re helping will want to study from your notes before your next class session. Students with disabilities are expected to pick up their notes throughout the week.
DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE THE IMPORTANCE OF YOUR CONTRIBUTION TO THE SUCCESS OF THE STUDENT WITH A DISABILITY!
YOUR HELP IS SINCERELY APPRECIATED!!!
With your cooperation in sharing your notes, the student has a chance to concentrate on the content of the information presented in class instead of on the mechanics for getting the lecture down on paper. This shifts the emphasis back to what is to be learned instead of how to learn it, and this may make all the difference for that student when it comes to grades and tests. Your notes may make the difference in the student’s ability to demonstrate what she or he knows.