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Notes Need Boundaries

By Lindsay Case


As a student at Minnesota State University, Mankato, (MSU) I have had the pleasure of copying notes written and narrated by my professors for over three years.  With my familiarity of numerous professors in numerous disciplines, I can speak from experience when I say that every professor prepares and presents notes differently. Some professors have learned to do this well, but unfortunately some haven’t.  When scribbling notes from a screen while the professor drones on I find myself wondering, how am I ever going to make sense of this later?  Precisely why I propose MSU initiate and encourage use of a template when professors produce notes intended for class viewing.


The implementation of a template used when creating viewable notes would do a service to the students and professors…


The implementation of a template used when creating viewable notes would do a service to the students and professors. I have endured professors adding information to their notes while presenting them; often this happens with poorly organized notes. Some go so far as to write new information in the margins or insert it into notes during class. This becomes a particular problem for students because we can’t simply insert a line into our notebook.  Some of the note formats produced by professors appear to require excessive creativity. A template would guide professors to organize better and allow notes to fit into existing lectures easier. If MSU initiated a template, the University could standardize icons used in notes and eliminate non-standard bullets, arrows, colors, or animation created by computers. Removing this clutter would make


The students of MSU would benefit from the standardization in multiple ways:


§         Easier copying

§         Easier studying

§         Smoother note transition between classes

§         Less time spent deciphering notes


MSU junior, Danielle Krueger, uses notes to study for all of her classes and claims to have trouble making sense of her notes at least once a week.  College can be challenging enough just learning subject matter without grueling over notes that seem almost foreign.  It’s also frustrating attempting to study from notes arranged in an illogical order.



MSU could choose any standardized template as long as they encourage it. I’m a personal fan of Roman numeral formatting, but any organization is an improvement on current standards. To push the integration of the template, I recommend professors be offered training. Good training would speed the changeover of professors using the template versus their own notes and could inform them why the template is a useful tool for them.  I’m sure they would see a rise, however slight, in the grades of their students. Even with a template for note writing, a professor isn’t expected not to veer off the path from time to time, this is college, but the template would help to keep a majority of learning organized.


Work Cited

the professor look more adept, and take speculation out of interpreting whether an arrow supercedes a flashing diamond in importance. If a teacher did feel great resistance to a template and was able to show just cause, the University could allow the professor to continue their form.




Danielle Krueger. Interview by Lindsay Case. Minnesota State University, Mankato. April 2, 2006


Did You Know?


Geoffrey Chaucer (1340–1400), English poet and one of the most important figures in English literature, introduced what can be called the first example of technical writing in English.


His book A Treatise on the Astrolabe, apparently written for his son, is now recognized as a competitive piece of technical writing.



Here is an excerpt:


…Lyte Lowys my sone, I aperceyve wel by certeyne evydences thyn abilite to lerne sciences touching nombres and proporciouns; and as wel considre I thy besy praier in special to learne the tretys of the Astrelabie . . . This tretis, divided in 5 parties, wol I shewe the under full light reules and naked wordes in Englissh, for Latyn ne canst thou yit but small, my litel sone, But natheles suffise to the these trewe conclusions in Englissh as wel as sufficith to these noble clerkes Grekes these same conclusions in Grek; and to Arabiens in Arabik, and to Jewes in Ebrew, and to the Latyn folk in Latyn . . .


Work Cited


Chaucer Commentary. “geoffreychaucer.org: an annotated guide to online resources.” Chaucer Texts Online http://www.geoffreychaucer.org (accessed April 09, 2006).





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