Case study: Wake Forest University

Studying Smarter, Not Harder: Wake Forest University’s Top 3 Sonocent Tips

Thanks to Sonocent, Wake Forest is helping students study smarter, not harder. So how do they do it? In a recent webinar, they gave us their top tips.


Too often, the power of notes as a learning tool is undervalued. They can become automatic, tied to ineffective methods and used purely as a means to an end for passing a course.

But, as Disability and Learning Assistance Specialist Suzanne Hawks realized, note-taking can be an invaluable study skill. And given Wake Forest University’s philosophy of educating the whole person, helping students get more out of their note taking became a focus of Hawks’s team.

As she told us, this came down to making the process easier.

‘When I’m talking to students, I have to remind them that working hard is not being stressed all night in the library. Sometimes it means working smarter. That can mean different things to different people, so we customize strategies for each student we work with’

Suzanne Hawks

That’s where Sonocent stepped in.


Getting Started

In a previous post, we asked why note taking is important. This was the same question that Hawks was seeking an answer to for her students. In her view, note-taking at college should be ‘an engaging opportunity to learn how to organize material for a meaningful experience

Creating that meaningful experience is what Hawks wanted to achieve with Sonocent.

She understood that the software had a real capability of making note taking easier and more effective. So she began to discuss it with students. Putting it into the right context, she was able to share 3 important tips to creating better notes with Sonocent.


Tip #1: Set Your Intention

Sonocent's highlight function for audio sections

Before you go to a class, have some advance knowledge of what you want to get out of it. This is made easier, Hawks points out, by the fact that most professors will explain what’s coming up in the next class at the end of a lecture. The professor might, for instance, explain that the next lecture will address how mitochondria are affected by toxins.

Make a note of this and pay attention to that learning goal when listening. When anything that might answer your learning objective is mentioned, use Sonocent’s highlight function to save it for later. It’ll make it that much easier to review.

‘Let’s help students make it an interactive process, so it is another learning opportunity, another moment for your brain to have quality time with material. Let’s help solidify those neural pathways!’

Suzanne Hawks

Tip #2: Organize Material with Sonocent

Image showing organization

Once you have your learning objective for the class ahead, get the power-point slides and import them into your audio notetaker file. This will help give your notes a structure that you can use to make notes more efficiently in the lecture. If you can’t get these from your professor or if your class doesn’t have a powerpoint presentation, don’t worry.

Here, Hawks says it’s important to know the tools at your disposal.

‘You have lots of options – this is one of the reasons I like Sonocent. It’s not one-size-fits-all; it’s completely customizable for each student style and each class style.’

Suzanne Hawks

Students can make use of the color highlighting features, import images or handwritten notes, make brief text notes in the margins, color code sections of audio and more. There’s no set way a student has to use the software. But Hawks believes it’s better to do your organizing once the lecture is over.

‘I often tell students not to spend too much time organizing material during class. I don’t want organization time to take away from focus in class. But if a student has learned the Sonocent tools, it doesn’t take a lot of time at all’

Suzanne Hawks

Ensuring audio lines up with the correct sections, adding longer reflective notes or extracting sections of audio are all ways to organize notes after the lecture is over. Time in class can be devoted to active listening and engaging with the information.


Tip #3: Implement Strategies with Sonocent

illustration of the 'margin technique' of note taking

One of the things Hawks likes most about Sonocent is how easily it aligns with popular note taking strategies. She spoke to us about how much value the Cornell method brings to students, and how Sonocent makes this style of notes easier to use.

The Cornell method (or margin technique) requires students to place questions in the margins of their notes that they’ll listen to answers for during a lecture. With Sonocent, all they need to do is color highlight the chunks of audio that provide these answers.

‘This is a great timesaver for when students are doing a final review of their notes. They do not have to spend time looking for the answer, or sorting through a lot of audio. This may be one of the biggest reasons from students why they love Sonocent so much.’

Suzanne Hawks

Note taking is no longer about writing as much as possible from a lecture. With Sonocent, it’s an exercise that makes learning and retaining information easier and more efficient.


Final Thoughts

Hawks teaches students her three ‘Rs’ of note taking – ‘Recite, Review, Reflect’ – encouraging them to use Sonocent to capture their impressions when they’re reviewing the material.

This helps create connections for deeper learning, strengthening those neural pathways between information and the learner.

And to make those connections stick, it’s hard to find a better way than testing yourself

‘Students who are quizzed more frequently perform better on long-term assessments. Classes that only have a midterm and final exam are not good for students who need that ongoing quizzing strategy. Sonocent helps you create your own questions, and create your own completely personalized question and answer format. How awesome is that?’

Suzanne Hawks

Learn More

If you’d like to know more about Sonocent, follow the link below to find out how smart note taking software has transformed support in institutions across North America and beyond.

Sonocent could be the perfect solution for you and your students to improve independence and attainment. Come and take a closer look.

Learn how Sonocent could work at your institution - Find out more

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