Archive for September, 2007


lifehack.org has a very good posting about how to talk to your professors. I agree with a lot of what is said in this article and highly suggest you take a look at it. The article makes suggestions like:

  • Call them by the right title
  • Tell the truth
  • Be prepared to do the work
  • Be clear and concise
  • Pay social calls
  • Do not, under any circumstances, flirt
  • Prepare for disappointment
  • Hold the threats

Go to the posting: Advice for Students: How to Talk to Professors


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Taking Notes That Work

Note taking - As this lifehack posting states:

“Note-taking is one of those skills that rarely gets taught. Teachers and professors assume either that taking good notes comes naturally or that someone else must have already taught students how to take notes.”

The posting goes on to describe various ways to take lecture notes. Though not knowing it, I tended to use the Cornell system when I was in school.

“The Cornell System is a simple but powerful system for increasing your recall and the usefulness of your notes. About a quarter of the way from the bottom of a sheet of paper, draw a line across the width of the page. Draw another line from that line to the top, about 2 inches (5 cm) from the right-hand edge of the sheet. You’ve divided your page into three sections. In the largest section, you take notes normally — you can outline or mind-map or whatever. After the lecture, write a series of “cues” into the skinny column on the right, questions about the material you’ve just taken notes on. This will help you process the information from the lecture or reading, as well as providing a handy study tool when exams come along: simply cover the main section and try to answer the questions. In the bottom section, you write a short, 2-3 line summary in your own words of the material you’ve covered. Again, this helps you process the information by forcing you to use it in a new way; it also provides a useful reference when you’re trying to find something in your notes later. You can download instructions and templates from American Digest, though the beauty of the system is you can dash off a template “on the fly”.”

Here’s another site that uses a climate classification lecture as an example of taking notes using the Cornell system. Create custom sheets here or download a generic Word document template here.

(Image Source)

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Coming up …

The EarthThis week we are being introduced to the discipline of physical geography, earth systems, and the atmosphere. Next week some of the most important topics of the semester are presented, energy and radiation. I say this because the geography of energy and radiation determines a variety of earth surfaces processes and controls the spatial variation of climate, vegetation, soils, weathering and to some degree, landform development. Make sure you get a good handle on what controls insolation, net radiation, sensible heat and latent heat. Start trying to picture the geographical variation of these elements.

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A recent posting on the “Zen Habits” blog details ways to be a more effective learner. Many of the suggestions are applicable to Geography 101. Here’s a few examples that caught my eye:

  • Ten Year Old Rule – Explain ideas to yourself as you would to a ten year old. Sure, this isn’t always possible in your last years of a medical degree or learning how to apply neural networks to computer AI. But the idea is that you should be able to “dumb down” an idea enough so it seems obvious to yourself.
  • Refresher Scan – Scan through information in your text book. Notice whenever you encounter information that you either don’t remember or weren’t 100% sure about. Quickly link that information back to existing ideas through visceralization and metaphor. If your refresher scan is turning up more than a few points per chapter, you haven’t learned it thoroughly enough.

For the rest see: How to Learn More and Study Less

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