This week in my Research Methods class my professor, Dr. Jones, asked students to engage in interactive reading and notetaking with one of our secondary readings. As a guide to interactive reading and citable notes we were asked to read Single’s Demystifying the Dissertation. Rather quickly into reading Single’s work I realized that his methods were almost exactly the same as the methods I learned from an Educational Psychology course I completed last summer. One of the key things I learned in Educational Psychology was how to teach and show my future students how to study, how to take good notes, and how to engage more deeply with the material. The best way to teach high school students how to do this is to practice it in my own life and demonstrate it to them. So, I try to avoid using highlighters, I use a pencil and write thoughts in the margins (if I own the book), use small post-it notes to mark important ideas and write a few key words, and I always read with a piece of paper to copy major ideas onto it while I’m reading. These are the same tips Single gives and I’m glad I am already using them on a regular basis.
However, my usual notetaking method is a little more complex than Single’s discussion on citable notes. When I copy ideas, quotes, or pieces of information from a reading I always do so on either a separate piece of paper or onto a word document. Every document is titled with the book name, the author, publisher, and year published. When I’m reading an article I will always write the page number of where the information was in the margin and then write my note beside it. If reading a book I make sure to create different sections for different chapters and then copy the page number next to the note. Though every note is not followed by a citation, I believe this is a more through example of notetaking that will help me automatically generate a citation from the information I included.
Being reminded about the importance of notetaking by Single I decided to pay close attention to my notes when reading one of my secondary readings for the week. I chose to use Christopher Capozzola’s Uncle Sam Wants You: World War I and the Making of the Modern American Citizen. Using my normal methods I was able to bust the book in less than two hours and produced a page and a half of good citable notes. I’ll be able to go back to these notes to look for information about WWI conscription, pacifism, mobilization and volunteerism, and the war era language of obligation.