To remedy this, I've been trying to draw students' attention to the Cornell note taking system. Some of you may know this system, but here's a picture of what it looks like:
Here's the method as described in Wikipedia:
The student divides the paper into two columns: the note-taking column (usually on the right) is twice the size of the questions/key word column (on the left). The student should leave five to seven lines, or about two inches (5 cm), at the bottom of the page.
Notes from a lecture or teaching are written in the note-taking column; notes usually consist of the main ideas of the text or lecture, and long ideas are paraphrased. Long sentences are avoided; symbols or abbreviations are used instead. To assist with future reviews, relevant questions (which should be recorded as soon as possible so that the lecture and questions will be fresh in the student's mind) or key words are written in the key word column.
After the notes have been taken, the student writes a brief summary in the bottom five to seven lines of the page. This helps to increase understanding of the topic. When studying for either a test or quiz, the student has a concise but detailed and relevant record of previous classes.
When reviewing the material, the student can cover up the note-taking (right) column to answer the questions/keywords in the key word or cue (left) column. The student is encouraged to reflect on the material and review the notes regularly.I was taught this system as an undergrad, and though I didn't use it in all my courses, it's particularly useful in philosophy courses. It helps to 'chunk' the material in your mind, for one. More than that, it's very helpful in moving between micro and macro. I recall it being particularly useful in taking notes on a complex text like Descartes' Meditations, where you have to keep track both of the overall line of thought while being comfortable with more specific arguments or claims. Cornell notes are an excellent study aid. I also remember making photocopies of my notes and then marking them with a red pen to find questions, tensions, etc. that could serve as the basis for term papers.
In any case, I'd be curious if others have used this or recommended it to their students — or if you're aware of other formats or approaches to note taking that are helpful particularly in philosophy courses.