Taking Notes in Paramedic Class

I have been listening to some of the old episodes of the EMS EduCast. There has been a bit of discussion of note taking, even criticism of the inadequate methods of taking notes.

Why are you in a class room?

To learn.

How do you learn?

Everybody learns a little bit differently There are several different ways of learning, but if the paramedic class is designed to teach you how to take notes, then note taking is important. If the paramedic class is designed to teach you how to understand how to be a paramedic, then note taking is only important, if that is the method that works to help you understand.

The purpose of the class is to have an understanding of the material. Writing, while the teacher is talking, does not help me to understand the point the teacher is trying to make. Note taking is to help reinforce later, what was learned in the class room.

Too many times I have had questions from students, who copied down what was said, but had absolutely no idea what it meant, because they were busy writing, rather than listening.

If I am talking to someone, and the person is sitting there writing, should I assume that the person is listening to me?

If I am talking to a boss, and the person is sitting there writing, should I assume that the boss is paying close attention to what I am saying, because what I am saying is so important that he/she needs to write it down?

No. I would assume that the boss, writing something down, is doing something else. Writing and listening are not all that compatible.

Note taking should probably only take place after the concept is understood.

Note taking is to reinforce understanding.

Note taking is not a substitute for understanding.

If we spend a lot of time on note taking, are we making sure that they understand, first? Too often, we do not, in my opinion.



Anonymous said...

I think a lot of that may depend on whether the instructor has anything more to say than read the powerpoint, in which case I can read, highlight and note take at home ! I agree though, when you get a really good instructor, you don't even crack the text book.

Ambulance Driver said...

My rules for paramedic class:

#1. No, I won't hand out Powerpoint note pages before class. Sorry.

#2. No highlighters in my class. Take notes. All the important stuff in the text is already highlighted, typed in bold, or added as a margin note. The book comes pre-highlighted.

#3. If you must use a highlighter, use it at home when you read the upcoming chapters before class. Highlight passages of the text that you find unclear or confusing. Then ask intelligent questions about those passages in class.

#4. Read the text before coming to class. If you don't, I use enough Socratic dialogue in class to know who did and who didn't prepare. If you didn't, get used to being embarrassed in front of your peers, because I will make it a point to highlight your ignorance or lack of study ethic - publicly.

#5. If you can't stand public ridicule, either work harder, or drop my class.

Scotty said...

For those that are interested Brett Williams, a senior lecturer at Monash University, Australia has been doing some good research on prehospital education delivery around case based learning and other initiatives.

Williams, B.(2005). Case based learning-A review of the literature:is there scope for trhis educational paradigm in prehospital education. Emergency Medicine Journal,22,577-581.

He has also published a number of other recent research papers in the EMJ that are worthy.

Medic(three) said...

I wasn't much of a note taker. They just didn't ever work for me in school. I had the best luck skimming the slides after class, and talking things out with a few classmates that were smarter than wee ol' me.

...KMG-365, -Clear said...

In my MANY years of academia both as student and instructor; my observations have been that the BEST instructors are the ones who used the text book as a RESOURCE and not as the core content of the class.

The dynamic, engaging instructor took the book material and verbally worked through applications, vignettes, scenarios and critical analysis synopsis'...(SP?)...

The LAST thing you had to do in one of these classes was to take notes.

But i do believe taking notes serves a purpose. The best example would be while the instructor is lecturing, examples, thoughts, ideas for later exploration or related topics come up - that's what's good to put in notes.

Sometimes the notes serve as a "condensed"/"meat and potatoes" re-write of core material, OR sometimes they serve to put concepts into one's own verbage.

It depends on the instructors style and methodology. The engaging instructor will have no need for students to take notes; they will be engaged in the class and interacting. The dull, dry, boring, lecture-from-the-podium instructor will have EVRYONE taking notes in the class....

Gifted instructing is an art into itself!