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Academic literacies
| Developing a digital student | Developing notemaking and reflective learning | IBL & PBL: problems and projects | Promoting dicussion
Promoting reading | Reading List | Resources | Simulations and role plays | Visual and creative strategies
Writing - mastering 'skills' | Writing - Writing in the Disciplines/Writing across the Curriculum



Developing notemaking and reflective learning

Notemaking is part of active engagement with a class or a text – actively revised notes become part of the learning process. It is useful to help your students understand the point of notemaking – and to scaffold successful notemaking in some of your sessions. You might consider offering prizes for the best visual summary of a whole module – or the best visual representation of a key academic text.

This section contains information on:

  • Seed and Teach Notemaking
  • Group Notemaking
  • From Notes… to logs and blogs
  • Blogs & blogging – students
  • Quad-blogging
  • Blogs & blogging - staff


1: Seed and Teach Notemaking
Seeded Notes:
In the first lecture of the course, many of us give a big introduction to the module, telling the students what we are doing and why. Typically students are terrified – they are flooded with adrenalin and cortisol – the brains all shrink to the size of a pea - and nothing is retained. Try to change this by encouraging some seeded and collaborative notemaking:

Strategies for Teaching Notemaking:

2: Group notemaking

  1. After a lecture, seminar or workshop students vote on who has made the best set of notes in the class – these are instantly photographed and uploaded to the VLE.
  2. Cornell notes: Cornell notes are tripartite notes: One section of a page is used for rough notemaking; one part is used to summarise key names, dates, facts etc; the final part can be used for reflective writing: for example tying a particular set of notes to the final assignment.
  3. Planning an essay: Brainstorm an essay topic – then students to prepare Paragraph Patterns: notes of all the people, references, concepts, theories and points that should go into each paragraph.

3: From Notes … to Reflective learning logs… to blogs
Active reflection and learning logs: After each session students have to make brief notes making their learning conscious:

  • What: what they have done
  • Why: analytical thinking: why they think they did it
  • Reaction: what their reaction was to the different learning activity engaged with – building a picture of their own strengths and weaknesses as students
  • Illustration: how will they illustrate the learning to re-frame it and to make it more memorable?
  • Learned: brief summary of all they feel they learned
  • Next steps: commitment to read, write, post…

How we did it:

Reflective logs and blogs
Learning is reflective practice. Each week you will be expected to consider what we have done – why we did it – and what you have learned from the activity or engagement. You will be expected to push that thinking deeper, asking: How will that help me as a professional in the future? We want you to keep weekly learning logs where you actively make your learning conscious. It is recommended that you make these logs as visually engaging and interesting as possible – and that you record them in an online blog.

You may be expected to hand in a reflective log for formative feedback. You may have to hand in a selection of your best course reflections – with some form of overarching commentary (meta-reflection) on why you chose those particular examples – and what they demonstrate about the quality of your engagement with and learning on the course as a whole. Your logs should also seed your ideas for your assignments.

4: Blogs and blogging – students
Student blogs: All students can be encouraged to keep their learning logs as a Blog – and to make these as creative, funny and visually attractive as possible. Encourage weekly writing and with a personal twist. Encourage writing for an audience. Tell students that blogs are quasi-academic and less formal writing – but that the process of writing the blog will develop their learning and their writing. Their subsequent essays will be of more quality because they have engaged in the less formal writing first – they will get higher grades!

Essential: Create your personal Module blog. If outside the VLE, think which blog site to use: Blogger or WordPress. Think Quadblogging. Share your blog with three other people – each week you agree to read each other’s Becoming blog and give some comment or feedback.

5: Student quad-blogs: Organise the students into groups of four: Quad blogs. Each member of a quad has to read and comment upon the posts made by the other student in their quad. This builds a sense that there is an audience there, reading posts. It helps build a sense of voice and writing with a purpose.

6: Blogs and blogging – staff
As well as posting PPT slides to VLE, members of staff teaching a module could take it in turns to write a reflective blog post on the week’s teaching on a module. When writing this blog adopt a slightly more informal tone – and use pictures and drawings to bring the blog to life: model the quasi-academic writing with which you want your students to engage.

Ask all the students to comment on the class blog – and to link to their own blogposts. A sense of community and belonging is developed – and everybody develops the sense that they have something of value to say about the module. See: and