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Trevor W.
Graduate student at Brite Divinity School at Texas Christian University
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Study Skills
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Question:

My teacher provides a lot of helpful information in her lecture, but it is often difficult to take thorough notes because of the amount of material we are covering. What can I do to take effective notes in a course like this?

Trevor W.
Answer:

This is a problem that many students face, but there are some helpful note-taking skills to help in situations like this. First, avoid writing everything the teacher says verbatim. While it will likely feel as if you are gaining all of the necessary information, taking notes in this way makes it very difficult to keep up and increases the chance that you will miss something the teacher is attempting to convey. Rather, listen closely and write notes that attempt to paraphrase the main idea your teacher is conveying. If any idea, word, or sentence is being emphasized, take note of this, as well. In addition, it is important to write down anything the teacher writes on the board, as this information is often meant to be emphasized. Furthermore, the Cornell Note-taking System has been helpful for many students. This method involves making two columns on your paper. On the left is a column for questions that are to help strengthen your memory and clarify connections in the material covered in class. Make this column around 2 1/2" long. To the right of this column is the note-taking column where you can paraphrase your teacher's lecture. This column should be roughly 6" long, taking up the rest of the paper. Subsequent to taking your notes in class, review the notes in this column in order to formulate the appropriate questions for your questions-column. This is also helpful for studying, as you can cover the note-taking column and answer the questions you have written down in your question-column.

Religious Studies
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Question:

What is involved in the historical-critical analysis of the Judeo-Christian biblical texts? Name one achievement gained through this methodology.

Trevor W.
Answer:

The historical-critical method of studying the ancient biblical texts involves an in-depth exploration of the "world behind the text." In other words, this methodology considers the historical context of the text, the possible authors and redactors of the text, and the historicity of the text. To accomplish this, scholars utilizing this methodology examine various interests, vocabulary, grammatical style, and presuppositions presented in the text being considered. One important achievement in the field of biblical studies rooted in the historical-critical method was made by Julius Wellhausen, a nineteenth-century German Old Testament scholar who refined a theory which suggested that the Torah, or the first five books of the Bible, was not written by Moses, as was traditionally believed, but was shaped into its present form by exilic redactors from independent narratives. It was surmised that there were at least four sources that were formed into the present narrative. These sources are known as the Yahwist (J), the Elohist (E), the Deuteronomist (D), and the Priestly (P).

US History
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Question:

William Henry Harrison died of pneumonia on April 4, 1861, just one month after he was sworn into the office of President of the United States. It is commonly argued that his exceptionally long inaugural speech and his refusal to dress for the cold weather led to his illness and eventual death. Is this true? Is there any evidence in support of or contrary to this belief?

Trevor W.
Answer:

While Harrison's speech was likely one of the longest inaugural speeches to be delivered and the biting weather certainly called for a coat and gloves, this event was likely not the cause of his illness. In 2014, two medical professionals from the University of Maryland School of Medicine argued that Harrison died from enteric fever, likely caused by the White House's contaminated drinking water. Prior to 1850, Washington D.C.'s sewage was dumped in a marsh upstream from the White House's water supply. According to these medical professionals, it is likely that bacteria from the sewage seeped into the drinking water and led to the president's fatal illness. In support of this, they point out that Harrison's lung problems, while listed as the cause of death, were not as severe as his abdominal troubles. Thus, it is true that the presidency most likely led to his death, but not in the way many presume.

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