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Cornell Note-Taking Paper: A basic Cornell Note-styled printable blank page for note-taking. (pdf)

Cornell Notes Sample: An example of Cornell Note-styled note-taking for demonstration and discussion. (pdf)

Cornell Notes Student Worksheet: A worksheet for discussions regarding the advantages and uses of the sections within Cornell Note-styled note-taking. (pdf)

Background Information Cornell Notes

Though most students (and many teachers) bemoan Cornell Notes and argue that they take too long to write and are not worth the effort, the fact of the matter is, they work, but only if done properly. Teachers who tell their students what to write in each section are actually doing their students a disservice. They are allowing their students to be passive, rather than active, note takers. Taking notes is a process, not a singular act and it is through that process that students learn.

Cornell Notes were developed in the 1940s by Walter Pauk, Professor Emeritus at Cornell University and "one of the most influential professors in the field of developmental education and study skills."1 His note-taking system is characterized by a right hand column for notes, a left hand column for generating questions or key words and phrases and a summary section to synthesize the aforementioned notes. Cornell Notes, as described in Dr. Pauk’s most well-known book, How to Study in College, are important because they can help students combat the effects of forgetting, which "can be instantaneous and complete."2 Cornell Notes can most succinctly be described as active note-taking.

Cornell Notes were introduced to AVID founder Mary Catherine Swanson by one of her tutors in the 1980s and it has been a core component of the AVID program ever since.3

  1. Kerstiens, Gene. Studying in College then and now: an interview with Walter Pauk. Abstract of an article in the Journal of Developmental Education, v21 n3 p20 22, 24. Spring 1998. Hosted by the Education Resources Information Center (ERIC).
  2. Pauk, Walter. How to Study in College. 4th ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1989, p. 136.
  3. AVID Archives Database

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