Using Tape Recorders

For students that write very slowly or have a lot of trouble taking notes, recording lectures with a tape recorder can be a good strategy. Before you bring a tape recorder into class, always check with your instructors first. While most probably won’t mind, some teachers don’t like the idea of their lectures being recorded. Once you get approval, follow these dos and don’ts to get the most out of this method.

Do…

  • Jot down some notes during class: Even though you are recording every word of the lecture, it’s still a good idea to take notes. Write down a list of the professor’s main points so you have an outline of the most important information when you are writing detailed notes after class.
  • Develop notes after class using the recordings: Tape recorded lectures are no substitute for a good set of notes. You have to be willing to listen to the lecture after class and prepare a detailed summary of the instructor’s major points and important supporting details. Do this as soon as possible after class – ideally that night – when the lecture will still be fresh in your mind.
  • Pay attention during lectures: Don’t just assume that you can work on assignments for other classes or zone out during a lecture because you are recording it. Listen carefully to the lecture to make sure that you understand the material. Otherwise, it will be very difficult to prepare your notes.

Don’t…

  • Rely on recordings as study tools: For most students, listening to tape recordings of all the class lectures isn’t a very effective way to prepare for tests. There is just too much to take in, and tape recorded lectures will contain both important and non-essential information. As a result, pressing “play” will usually not be enough to prepare you for a test or exam.
  • Put off making notes from tape recordings: If you’re planning to use a tape recorder during lectures, you have to be very disciplined about reviewing the recordings and making good notes. Otherwise, taking notes from the recordings can quickly become overwhelming. This means that using a tape recorder may not be the best method for you if you don’t think you will be able to review your recordings every day or two.

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