Grading guidelines: Reading notes

This course has a total of 36 assigned readings, but notes are only required for 30 of them. Students are allowed to pick which 30 readings to submit notes for. Each reading notes submission is worth 1.5 points (max 45 points). Of course students are welcome to take notes on all 36 readings, if desired ;)

Just in case you missed it, reading notes are 45% of your grade in this course!

Notes for required readings are due by the start of class. Please have your notes accessible during class.


Don’t notes seem a little… basic? Note taking is a fundamental skill, and I’m sure most of you have practiced it for many years. That said, I’ve observed many, many people who do not take notes in circumstances where it would theoretically provide them significant benefit. Certainly the research on this topic strongly suggests that note taking supports deep (and efficient!) learning. Good note-taking skills are essential for many careers, including academic ones. It’s also a great tool for supporting self-directed teaching and review, and gives me an opportunity to assess how well you’re getting what you need from the readings!

So in this class we are getting into a note-taking habit.

How will notes be evaluated?

For full credit (1.5 point) the notes for a reading must:

  1. Have a clear title with bibliographic information and date
  2. Fill at least one half page
  3. Contain graphical representations or sketches of all key figures/findings
  4. Be spatially separated into at least three sections: e.g., detailed notes, overall summary, comments/questions
  5. Have few (if any) direct quotes; reformulate thoughts in your own words—too many direct quotes of phrases or sentences will prevent full credit
  6. Mention at least one link to another paper covered in class or the student’s own research interests
  • Notes can be submitted digitally in the form of a Word .doc, a .pdf, a webpage, or a high resolution image of hand-written notes. Blurry/unreadable notes will receive one warning and, subsequently, will prevent full credit.
  • If you already have your own preferred technique for reading notes, please contact me to discuss—I can probably evaluate you on that basis.

Late reading notes?

Late notes can be submitted within a week of the original due date with a 0.5 point penalty.