We asked our community of college students: “Do you share lecture and course notes with other students?” Thirty-three percent of respondents replied that they do either share or borrow (or both) notes with their classmates, while 67% said they don’t share or borrow notes.

In the past, there may have been a negative stigma surrounding getting additional help or sharing notes. However, many instructors now are finding ways to help their students be productive and ethical when sharing notes outside of the classroom. It’s important for students to learn how to take and, when appropriate, share notes with fellow classmates.

According to authors Dave Ellis, Doug Toft, and Debra Dawson in their book, Becoming a Master Student, 6th Edition, there are some simple tips for students taking and sharing notes. We’ve shared their sentiments and added some additional helpful hints:

Contact other students.

Make personal contact with at least one other student in each of your classes–especially classes that involve lots of reading or online course work. Create study groups for note sharing, quizzing each other, critiquing papers, and other learning tasks. This kind of support can help you succeed. (185)

Share notes with classmates.

While certainly not necessary after every lesson, it’s a good idea to reach out to a classmate after a particularly challenging class session. Your fellow students might write down something important that you missed. At the same time, your notes might help them. Exchanging and talking through notes can fill in the gaps. (178)

Leave extra space in your notes.

During lecture, if you think you missed something, leave plenty of room for filling in information later. Use a symbol that signals you’ve missed something, so you can remember to come back to it. Your classmates may be able to help, or if you both have similar gaps, it might be a good idea to ask the instructor about it next class session. (178)

For more advice on taking quality notes in class, visit our blog post, “Tips for Students: How to Take Thoughtful and Critical Notes.”

Build a diverse study group.

Consider pooling resources with a diverse group of students. This will allow you to gain perspective on the lesson and provide you with a full spectrum of interpretations. For tips on how to build an advantageous work group, visit our blog post, “Tips for Students: How to Successfully Work With Your Peers.”

Reference: Ellis, Dave; Doug Toft; Debra Dawson. 2016. Becoming a Master Student, 6th Edition. Nelson, Cengage Learning.

Do you allow students to share notes and knowledge to improve their learning comprehension? Share your thoughts on productive note-sharing below.