ArticlePDF Available

Note This: How to Improve Student Note Taking


Abstract and Figures

Students are incomplete note takers who routinely record just one third of a lesson's important information in their notes. This is unfortunate, because the number of lesson points recorded in notes is positively correlated with student achievement. Moreover, both the activity of recording notes and the subsequent review of notes are advantageous. The authors offer instructors a menu of research-based advice for bolstering student note taking: provide complete notes, provide partial notes, provide note-taking cues, represent the lesson, provide pauses and revision opportunities, control laptop usage, control "cyber slacking," use PowerPoint slides effectively, and teach note-taking skills. They also suggest ways to help students transform their notes during the note-review process and SOAR (select, organize, associate, and regulate) to success.
Content may be subject to copyright.
Kenneth A. Kiewra University of Nebraska
Tiphaine Colliot Rennes 2 University
Junrong Lu University of Nebraska
Students are incomplete note takers who routinely record just one third of a lesson’s important
information in their notes. This is unfortunate, because the number of lesson points recorded in notes
is positively correlated with student achievement. Moreover, both the activity of recording notes and the
subsequent review of notes are advantageous. The authors offer instructors a menu of research-based
advice for bolstering student note taking: provide complete notes, provide partial notes, provide note-
taking cues, re-present the lesson, provide pauses and revision opportunities, control laptop usage,
control cyber slacking,use PowerPoint slides effectively, and teach note-taking skills. They also
suggest ways to help students transform their notes during the note-review process and SOAR (select,
organize, associate, and regulate) to success.
Keywords: Note taking, SOAR, strategy instruction
Kenneth Kiewra began his note-taking investigations
while a graduate student at Florida State University in
1979. This research interest was prompted by his
statistics professor, Harold Fletcher, who outlawed
student note taking during class. Fletcher told his
students that taking notes diverted their attention
from the lecture; it was better to listen and think
about the material than to mindlessly record what was
being said. Yet Fletcher realized that students needed
notes to review later, so he prepared written lesson
notes and offered them to students following each
Most students embraced the idea of kicking back
during lectures and getting comprehensive notes
afterward, but not Kiewra. He was a voracious note
taker who had been named Note Taker of the Year
Runner-Up twice in college. So, in Professor Fletcher’s
class, Kiewra became a closet note taker. He
retreated to the back of the room and sat behind a
former Seminole lineman, concealed by his bulk.
There he huddled over a small notepad and wrote
feverishly whenever Fletcher looked away. One day, as
Kiewra scribbled, he sensed a presence creeping up
on him from behind. He looked up to see Fletcher
peering down at the notepad. “Mr. Kiewra, are you
taking notes in my class?” Dr. Fletcher asked. Caught
pen-handed, Kiewra could do nothing but lie: “Ah, no,
I’m writing a letter to a friend back home.” Staring
down at the now exposed pad, Fletcher retorted,
“Well, how nice of you to tell your friend about
omnibus testing.”
Prompted by this experience, Kiewra conducted six
note-taking studies under Fletcher’s supervision while
in graduate school and has continued investigating
note taking ever since, seeking optimal ways for
students to record notes and for instructors to aid
student note taking. Recently, Kiewra’s note-taking
expertise had its day in court when he was summoned
as an expert witness by a major energy company
under fire from the US Securities and Exchange
Commission for misleading investors. The evidence:
investors’ meeting notes with energy-company
Note This: How to Improve
Student Note Taking
IDEA Paper #73 • September 2018
executives. Kiewra examined the notes and described
note-taking research that might invalidate them
(2016). Case closed.
Now that you know a bit about the first author’s note-
taking background, you have some context for the rest
of our article on this practice. First we explain why
note taking is potentially effective and important for
student achievement. Next we describe problems
associated with students’ notes that reduce their
effectiveness. Last, we address several ways that
instructors can improve student note taking and thus
raise achievement.
Why Note Taking Is Effective
Most students take notes (Bonner & Holliday, 2006;
Castello & Monereo, 2005), which is good because
note taking serves two functions: process and
product. The process of note taking (as Kiewra tried to
do in Professor Fletcher’s class) and the product, the
notes themselves (as Fletcher arranged), both boost
achievement. The process of taking notes is effective
(Bligh, 2000; Einstein, Morris, & Smith, 1985; Kiewra,
Mayer, Christensen, Kim, & Risch, 1991; Suritsky &
Hughes, 1991) because the activity focuses students’
attention on instruction (e.g., Katayama & Crooks,
2003; Kobayashi, 2006; Piolat, Olive, & Kellogg,
2005) and leads to better assimilation of lesson ideas
with prior knowledge than does simply listening
(Peper & Mayer, 1978, 1986; Shrager & Mayer,
1989). However, some studies do not show a process
advantage for note taking, meaning that simply
listening during a lesson is as effective as recording
notes during it (Fisher & Harris, 1973; Glover, Zimmer,
Ronning, & Petersen, 1980; Kiewra et al., 1991; Riley
& Dyer, 1979).
Note taking’s product function is effective (e.g.,
Armbruster, 2000; Fisher & Harris; Kiewra, 1985,
1989; Knight & McKelvie, 1986; Luo, Kiewra, &
Samuelson, 2016) because it allows more time for
meaningfully processing recorded ideas when notes
are reviewed following the lesson (e.g., Crooks, White,
& Barnard, 2007; Kiewra, 1985; Kiewra et al., 1991).
Some studies try to determine which of note taking’s
two functions is stronger. This line of investigation
generally confirms that the product function is
stronger than the process function (Kiewra et al.,
1991; Kobayashi, 2005; Rickards & Friedman, 1978).
We contend, however, that both functions are
important and improvable and that comparing their
relative merits is akin to asking, “Which is more
important, writing a letter or mailing it?
What Is Wrong with Students’ Notes?
For notes to be optimally effective, they must be
complete. The more complete that students’ notes
are, the higher those students’ achievement (e.g.,
Kiewra, 1985; Nye, Crooks, Powley, & Tripp, 1984;
Peverly, Garner, & Vekaria, 2014). Unfortunately,
most studentsnotes are woefully incomplete.
Students, on average, record just one third of
important lesson ideas (Austin, Lee, & Carr, 2004;
Kiewra, 2016; Titsworth, 2004). To understand how
problematic this is, imagine asking someone for their
phone number. They report their full 10-digit number,
but you record just 3 of those digits. Good luck placing
a call later! Similarly, examine Figure 1, which shows
what one-third note completeness looks like. Imagine
studying these spotty notes weeks later in preparation
for an exam.
Figure 1. What recording one third of lesson
information in notes looks like (shown in black).
Why are students such incomplete note takers? One
reason is probably what we might call technical
difficulties (Bassili & Joordens, 2008; Bui & Myerson,
2014; Peverly et al., 2013). Most lectures are
presented at a rate of approximately 120 to 180
words per minute (Wong, 2014). This rate is too fast
for most note-taking students, who on average can
keyboard at just 33 words per minute (Karat,
Halverson, Horn, & Karat, 1999) or write longhand at
just 22 words per minute (Brown, 1999). In other
cases, students are known to record fewer notes
when (a) visual aids are shown or questions are asked
by other students (Maddox & Hoole, 1975); (b) the
lesson topic is familiar (Trevors, Duffy, & Azevedo,
2014; Van Meter, Yokoi, & Pressley, 1994); (c) they
are feeling fatigued, especially in the latter portions of
lectures (Locke, 1977); or (d) they are pulled off-task
by digital distractions such as cell phones and laptops
(Kuznekoff & Titsworth, 2013).
Students’ notes are not only generally incomplete but
are also missing vital details, examples, and qualifiers
or are just plain inaccurate. Students actually do a
good job of recording a lesson’s superordinate main
ideas but fail to record its subordinate details (Kiewra
& Benton, 1988). In one note-taking study, Kiewra,
Benton, and Lewis (1987) counted the percentage of
ideas that students noted, at various levels of detail.
To get a sense of how this was done, consider the
following sentences from what might be a lesson on
note taking, and the corresponding levels of ideas
Note taking increases achievement (level 1)
through its process and product functions
(level 2). The process function involves the
activity of note taking (level 3) and is
measured by comparing the achievement of
note takers and listeners (level 4).
Students’ notes became progressively less complete
as lesson ideas grew in subordination levels and
detail. Students recorded 91% of the most
superordinate level 1 ideas, 60% of level 2 ideas, 35%
of level 3 ideas, and only 11% of the most
subordinate, level 4 ideas.
Students often omit examples from notes. In the study
conducted by Austin et al. (2004), students recorded
notes pertaining to only 13% of lesson examples,
even though examples are often crucial for
understanding lesson ideas. Consider how difficult it
is to understand the following rule regarding comma
usage without the accompanying example, which
demonstrates what is meant by coordinate
conjunctionsand main clauses.
Use a comma if there is a coordinate
conjunction joining two main clauses.
Paradise was an exclusive country club (main
clause), but (coordinate conjunction) the gates
of hell were open (main clause).
Qualifiers are often absent from students’ notes, too
(Maddox & Hoole, 1975). Qualifiers are usually
adjectives that are added to nouns to qualify a noun’s
meaning. Suppose a lecturer says, “Monsoons are
likely in western coastal areas,” but a student writes
down, “Monsoons occur in coastal areas.” The student
has missed the important qualifier “western” and will
later review their recorded statement that erroneously
suggests that monsoons occur in all coastal areas. In
Kiewra’s court case (2016), mentioned earlier, an
energy-company executive stated, “If recent trends
hold true, the site can produce 100 million barrels of
oil,” but an investor missed the qualifier “if recent
trends hold true” and tersely wrote, “the site can
produce 100 million barrels of oil.”
Students also sometimes record information
inaccurately. In one study, Crawford (1925) found that
53% of noted information was fully correct, 45% was
vague, and 2% was inaccurate. Another study
(Maddox & Hoole, 1975) indicated that 61% of note
takers introduced one or more inaccuracies into their
notes and that most inaccuracies involved numerals.
A third study (Johnstone & Su, 1994) also reported
that notes contain inaccuracies and that most occur
when copying diagrams and numerical information.
What Instructors Can Do to Aid Note Taking
There are several research-based techniques that
instructors can use to improve student note taking
and the resulting notes: provide complete notes,
provide partial notes, provide note-taking cues, re-
present the lesson, provide pauses and revision
opportunities, control laptop usage, control cyber
slacking,use PowerPoint slides effectively, teach
note-taking skills, and help students transform notes
and SOAR (select, organize, associate, and regulate)
to success. We discuss each technique, and the
research supporting it, in turn.
Provide Complete Notes
It appears that Professor Fletcher knew what he was
doing when he provided students with a complete set
of notes to review. Research confirms that students
who review provided notes achieve more than students
who record and review their own notes. In a study by
Kiewra and Benton (1987), college students watched a
20-minute video lesson on learning hierarchies, with
one group of students taking notes while another
group abstained. Note takers later reviewed their
notes; nonnote takers reviewed a set of provided
notes that were complete. Following the 25-minute
review period, all students were tested on the lesson.
Those who reviewed the provided notes achieved 17%
higher scores than the students who reviewed their
own notesnot surprising, given that the provided
notes contained all 115 lesson ideas, whereas
students’ own notes contained, on average, just 38%
of lesson ideas.
One study (Kiewra, 1985) went so far as to show that
reviewing a complete set of provided notes can even
compensate for missing a lesson. Students attended
a 20-minute lesson on the purpose and construction
of learning hierarchies and either took notes or simply
listened. Another group of students did not attend the
lesson at all. Later, students reviewed either no notes,
their own notes, a complete set of provided notes, or
both their own notes and provided notes, resulting in
the seven groups shown on the left side of Table 1;
the right side shows the test results. Notice that the
top-performing groups all studied the complete notes,
the bottom-performing groups all had no notes to
study, and the middle-performing group took their own
notes and studied only those. Those self-recorded
notes, by the way, contained, on average, just 35% of
the important ideas included in the lesson and in the
provided notes. These findings confirm that note
taking’s primary value lies in its product function and
that it is important to have a complete set of notes to
review, regardless of what occurs at acquisition
listening only, taking notes while listening, or being
absent. Moreover, the tried-and-true method of
recording and reviewing one’s own notes is relatively
Table 1
Note-Taking Groups and Their Test Results Reveal the
Achievement Value of Provided Notes
Test Results
Take notes/Review own + provided 71%
Not attend/Review provided 69%
Listen/Review provided 63%
Take notes/Review own 51%
Take notes/Review no notes 44%
Listen/Review no notes 43%
Not attend/Review no notes 33%
In a study involving text learning (Colliot & Jamet,
2018a), college students read a 1,500-word text on
memory at their own pace. Some of the students were
also provided with a complete set of notes in
hierarchical form, showing all 21 superordinate and
subordinate lesson ideas. Others were asked to
create hierarchical notes on their own, which they did
with 100% accuracy and completion. Unfortunately,
recording one’s own notes took a toll on achievement.
Those provided with complete notes outscored the
note takers by 16%, 12%, and 17% on tests
measuring main ideas, hierarchical relationships, and
problem solving, respectively. These results were
replicated when the hierarchical form was replaced
with an outline form (Colliot & Jamet, 2018a).
Perhaps instructors are not inclined to do students’
work for them or fear encouraging absenteeism by
providing a complete and ready-made set of notes to
review. Or perhaps instructors recognize note taking’s
process value and do not want to forgo that. Both of
these potential problems can be addressed by
providing students with partial notes.
Provide Partial Notes
A simpler note-providing alternative, which shares
note-taking responsibilities between instructors and
students and maintains note taking’s process benefit,
is partial notes. Partial notes provide only main ideas
and cue students to record additional notes in blank
spaces. In one study investigating partial notes
(Kiewra, Benton, Kim, Risch, & Christensen, 1995),
students attended a video lesson on the topic of
creativity and recorded notes either from scratch or
on distributed partial notes, such as those in Figure 2.
Those taking notes on their own recorded 38% of
important lesson ideas, whereas those using partial
notes recorded 56% of important lesson information.
Group achievement differences mirrored those for
note taking.
Figure 2. Partial notes for a lesson on creativity.
Some studies have investigated the benefits of partial
notes when students learn from text presented via
computer. One key finding is that when partial notes
are provided and students are given the choice to
either type or copy and paste notes into text boxes,
approximately 80% of students choose to copy and
paste notes (Igo, Bruning, McCrudden, & Kauffman,
2003). Although copying and pasting often leads to
more complete notes than typing40% versus 20%
(Bauer & Koedinger, 2007)the former leads to lower
achievement. Such was the case when students who
typed notes onto partial outlines while reading
chapter-length texts achieved more on both
immediate and delayed application tests than those
who copied and pasted notes, with each test
administered following note review (Katayama,
Shambaugh, & Doctor, 2005).
The problem with copying and pasting is that students
tend to copy and paste too much information into
their notes. They sometimes copy and paste entire
paragraphs or sentences and do so without much
cognitive engagement or thought (Igo & Kiewra, 2007;
Igo, Kiewra, & Bruning, 2008). According to Stacy and
Cain (2015), “An application that allows students to
copy and paste prewritten notes without including
their own definitions and elaborations is much less
effective than one that encourages personally written
language. While verbatim notes may be more
accurate, the benefit of processis absent, and
therefore, lessens the effect of the learning
experience” (p. 3). Perhaps a middle ground is
restricting the amount of notes that students copy
and paste. When researchers (Igo, Bruning, &
McCrudden, 2005) restricted copy-and-paste note
taking in partial notes to a maximum of only seven
words per note-taking cell, those recording restricted
notes achieved more than those whose copy-and-
paste note taking was unrestricted: 12% higher at
recalling text ideas, 20% higher at identifying new
examples, and 28% higher at comparing text ideas.
Restricting the amount of notes forced copy-and-paste
note takers to read information carefully and be more
selective about what they recorded.
Regarding whether it is better for instructors to
provide complete or partial notes, findings are mixed.
In a study favoring partial notes (Katayama &
Robinson, 2000), college students studied a chapter-
length text on sleep disorders and received either
complete notes on this topic or a series of partial
organizers to complete in either outline or matrix
form. Students with partial notes achieved more on an
application test than those with complete notes by an
18% margin.
In a study favoring complete notes (Stull & Mayer,
2007, Experiment 3), college students studied a text
about reproductive barriers between species and
received either complete notes or partial organizers
that needed to be completed while reading. Those
who received complete notes achieved 50% more on
a problem-solving test than those who received partial
Finally, provided complete notes and partial notes
proved comparable in another learning-from-text
study (Colliot & Jamet, 2018c). College students read
a 1,500-word text on memory, presented on the
computer. One group received a completed organizer
showing the lesson’s 21 superordinate and
subordinate ideas in hierarchical form. Another group
recorded notes on a hierarchy framework (partial
notes) that contained space to record superordinate
and subordinate ideas. Following the lesson, the two
groups performed comparably on tests measuring
main ideas, hierarchical relationships, and problem
solving. Both groups, though, outperformed a third
group of students, who had to create their own
hierarchy without assistance, by 20% to 30%,
indicating once again the value of provided notes
(whether complete or partial) over students’ self-
generated notes.
In conclusion, partial notes seem to be a good
compromise for aiding note taking and learning. First,
rather than instructors doing all the note-taking work,
that task is shared by instructor and students.
Second, partial notes engage students in the note-
taking process. They make students attentive and
active learners during lecture and text lessons while
relieving students of some of the burden of trying to
record a complete set of notes on their own. In
addition, providing partial notes raises note taking
beyond what students typically record on their own,
thereby resulting in a relatively complete and effective
set of notes for review.
Provide Note-Taking Cues
Instructors can easily deploy two types of lesson cues
to boost note taking: importance cues and
organizational cues. Cues signaling importance can
be written, presented orally, or delivered nonverbally.
In one study, students recorded 86% of information
written on the blackboard (Locke, 1977). Providing
written questions is another way to signal what is
most important in a lesson. Rickards and McCormick
(1988) had college students listen to an 800-word
lecture, divided into 16 sections, about the fictitious
country of Mala. Some students received a pre-
question before each segment to focus their attention
on that material. Pre-questions raised both note
taking and achievement: Those who received pre-
questions recorded 20% of the lesson’s critical
information, versus the only 2% recorded by those
who did not receive them. Regarding achievement,
those who received pre-questions recalled
approximately 25% more material than those who did
Oral lesson cues might include an instructor saying,
“This point is noteworthy/imperative/absolutely
critical/likely to be on the test.” Sometimes it is not
just what instructors say but how they say it that
signals importance. Variance in voice pitch, cadence,
volume, or rate can let students know that
information is noteworthy. So too can repeating
Nonverbal cues also signal importance. One college
instructor whom we know emphasizes important
points nonverbally by cradling his chin in his hand,
thrusting out his bottom lip, arching his eyebrows, and
nodding his head vehemently. His students know to
write feverishly when this cue medley erupts. In a
reported study (Moore, 1968), a lecturer held up
cards that signaled whether note taking was
warrantedgreen for yes and red for noin one class
but not in another, for 12 lectures over a six-week
period. The class that received cues outperformed the
class that did not on an achievement test covering the
lecture material. Other nonverbal cues might include
pointing, clapping, finger snapping, hand waving, a
piercing glance, or a rap on the table. Saying nothing
can also serve as a cue. When instructors pause after
delivering a lesson point, most students probably
know to fill the silence with note taking.
Organizational cues alert students to the lesson’s
structure, and they raise both note taking and
achievement. In a study investigating organizational
lesson cues (Titsworth & Kiewra, 2004), students
listened to one of two forms of a lesson: cued or
uncued. Both forms were well organized and identical,
with one exception: The cued lesson signaled the
lesson’s organization by emphasizing the four lesson
topics (the names of four communication theories)
and the five lesson categories common to each topic
(e.g., definition, example, application). For example,
one lesson cue inserted in the lesson was “Next, we
examine the application of general systems theory.”
Another was “Here is the definition of mass media
theory.” Each lesson cue set the stage for introducing
an important lesson detail. There were 20
organizational cues spaced throughout the lesson.
After the lesson, a brief period for note review was
followed by two tests, one assessing lesson
organization and one assessing lesson details. Notes
were also analyzed for organizational points and
details. Organizational cues positively impacted note
taking and achievement. The cued group recorded
approximately 40% more organizational points and
45% more details in notes than the uncued group.
Higher rates of note taking led to higher achievement.
The cued group achieved nearly seven times more on
organizational points and nearly twice as much on
details compared to the uncued group.
Re-present the Lesson
It might seem far-fetched for instructors to re-present
a lesson to students, but instructors working in the
digital world can easily do so when they make a
recorded lesson available to students online so that it
can be viewed more than once. But is there an
advantage to multiple lesson viewings? Kiewra et al.
(1991) discovered that there is. Students in their
study watched a brief video lesson either one, two, or
three times. Students in a fourth, free-viewing, group
watched individually and controlled how the video was
played: They could pause, rewind, fast forward, or
replay any portion. In terms of note taking, all groups
were equally effective, recording approximately 80%
of the lesson’s main ideas whether they viewed it
three times or only once.
However, the groups varied in their recording of
lesson details. Students who viewed the lesson two
times recorded more details than those who viewed it
only once (53% vs. 38%); the same was true of those
who viewed it three times (60%) or on their own
(65%). Achievement results mirrored note-taking
results, because those who recorded more notes
tended to achieve more. It is interesting to note how
the free-viewing students viewed the lesson. All of
them watched the lesson only once, never replaying it
in its entirety. Instead, they often paused the lesson to
jot notes, and they replayed brief sections that they
thought required additional viewing. Their total
viewing time approximated that of the three-viewings
Regarding whether students in authentic learning
settings actually view posted lessons multiple times or
slow down the viewing process as the free-viewing
students did in the Kiewra et al. study (1991) is, to
our knowledge, unknown. To determine students’
viewing behaviors, instructors can ask them how they
view posted lessons or perhaps track their viewing
behaviors through a course’s learning-management
system. In the meantime, we encourage instructors to
post lessons online whenever possible, prompt
students to replay or slow down posted presentations
when they view them and tell students the note-taking
and achievement benefits of doing so.
Provide Pauses and Revision Opportunities
Many lessons, especially recorded lessons, are
presented too rapidly for students to keep pace and
record adequate notes. Instructors should heed the
simple advice to slow down. There is another way,
though, to help students record more notes: provide
lesson pauses and ask students to revise (i.e., add to
and embellish) their existing notes. Luo et al. (2016)
assessed the value of note revision in Experiment 1 of
a two-experiment study. They played a 14-minute
audiotaped lesson delivered at a rate of 136 words
per minute for students, who were directed to record
notes throughout the lesson. Following the lesson,
students were either instructed to revise their notes or
to merely recopy them, as students often do.
Naturally, only those who revised added more lesson
ideas to their notes. Revisers mildly outperformed
note copiers on a fact test (3%) and a relationship test
In Experiment 2, the researchers assessed how best
to carry out revisions. A new group of students heard
the same lesson as those in Experiment 1, but this
time students revised either for 15 minutes at the
lesson’s end or during three 5-minute pauses spaced
throughout the lesson. In addition, students revised
either alone or with a partner. Overall, revising during
pauses with a partner produced more complete notes
and higher fact and relationship scores than revising
at the end of the lesson by oneself.
The researchers (Luo et al., 2016) contend that
revision works because students can use their
existing notes to retrieve other lesson ideas that they
had not previously recorded. Having recorded the
main idea that short-term memory is limited might
help a reviser later retrieve the detail that short-term
memory holds approximately seven bits of information
and the example of a phone number conforming to
short-term memory’s limitation. The researchers
contend that pauses work because students can
retrieve their potential revisions from memory with
less delay than if revision is saved until the end of the
lesson. Lesson pauses probably also offset fatigue.
And, the researchers contend, revising with partners
is effective because partners can share notes and
collaborate on revisions. Two heads are better than
Control Laptop Usage
Studentsuse of laptop computers to record notes is
on the rise (Fried, 2008; Lauricella & Kay, 2010):
Approximately one third of college students take class
notes using laptops (Aguilar-Roca, Williams, &
O’Dowd, 2012). Although most students can type
more quickly than they can write (Brown, 1999; Karat
et al., 1999), is laptop note taking a superior
alternative to recording notes in longhand? As
described in the next section, students are often
distracted by their laptops and other digital devices
during class, because they check text messages and
surf Web sites unrelated to class topics.
Those problems aside, recent research (Luo, Kiewra,
Flanigan, & Peteranetz, in press; Mueller &
Oppenheimer, 2014) casts doubts on the viability of
laptop note taking. The study by Luo and colleagues
(2018) investigated the relative benefits of laptop
note taking versus longhand, when notes are
recorded and not reviewed (the process function of
note taking) and when notes are both recorded and
reviewed (the product function of note taking).
Students watched a 23-minute, narrated PowerPoint
lesson about educational measurement containing 23
slides with text and images. Achievement tests
assessed text-based and image-based learning. To
assess note taking’s process effect, half the laptop
and longhand note takers took achievement tests
right after the lesson, without the opportunity to
review. To assess note taking’s product effect,
remaining laptop and longhand note takers reviewed
notes for 15 minutes before taking the achievement
tests. Regarding note taking’s process function,
laptop and longhand note takers performed
comparably on the image-based test, but the laptop
group outscored the longhand group on the text-
based test. Regarding note taking’s product function,
the longhand group outscored the laptop group on
both the image-based and text-based tests.
Notes were analyzed as well and explained
achievement differences (Luo et al., in press). Laptop
and longhand note takers recorded equal amounts of
lesson ideasabout one third of lesson pointsbut
laptop notes were wordier than longhand notes and
contained more verbatim strings. This is a measure of
the degree to which students record lesson ideas
verbatim rather than paraphrase them. Verbatim note
taking is considered more superficial and less
meaningful than paraphrased note taking, and some
even call it mindless (Mueller & Oppenheimer, 2014).
Longhand note takers, meanwhile, recorded images
such as graphs and tables, but laptop note takers
recorded none of these things, perhaps because of
the difficulty of capturing such images on a laptop.
The researchers (Luo et al., in press) concluded that
longhand note takers recorded higher quality notes
than laptop note takers: Notes were more efficient
and contained more paraphrasing and more images.
Recording notes of this quality had both a cost and a
benefit. The cost was the additional cognitive strain
during the lesson that somewhat hindered text-based
learning if notes were not reviewed (the process
function of note taking). The benefit was a superior
set of notes for review (the product function of note
taking) that, in turn, led to higher text-based and
image-based achievement than did the review of
laptop notes. And because the primary purpose of
note taking is to create a complete and effective set
of notes for review, the benefit was worth the price.
Instructors, by the way, might believe that they can
simply warn laptop note takers not to record verbatim
notes because of their ineffectiveness. Researchers
actually posed such warnings, but laptop note takers
recorded verbatim notes nonetheless (Mueller &
Oppenheimer, 2014). Instructors should make
students aware of the potential disadvantages of
laptop note taking as well as the following attention
Control Cyber Slacking
Cyber slacking is the unwarranted use of mobile
technology in the classroom for purposes other than
learning. Laptops and other mobile devices are
ubiquitous in college classrooms and prove
detrimental because they pull students off-task
(Flanigan, 2018), limit note taking (Kuznekoff &
Titsworth, 2013), and reduce achievement (McCoy,
2013, 2016; Dietz & Henrich, 2014). When Fried
(2008) asked students how they used their laptops
during class, 81% reported checking email, 43%
reported surfing the Web, 25% reported playing
games, and 35% reported other activities unrelated to
learning. More recent studies confirm that (a) 70% of
students send text messages via their phones during
class (Emanuel, 2013; Kornhauser, Paul, & Siedlecki,
2016); (b) students send or receive approximately 20
text messages per class period (Dietz & Henrich;
Pettijohn, Frazier, Rieser, Vaughn, & Hupp-Wildsde,
2015); (c) students spend more than half a typical
class period using laptops for nonclass purposes
(Ragan, Jennings, Massey, & Doolittle, 2014); and (d)
students do all this even though they are aware that
cyber slacking negatively impacts learning (Froese et
al., 2012; McCoy, 2016).
One study cleverly examined the effect of students’
mobile phone usage on note taking and achievement
(Kuznekoff & Titsworth, 2013). College students
assigned to one of three groups watched a 12-minute
video lecture about communication theories with
either no phone distractions (control group); low
distraction, where students received a text message
every 60 seconds; or high distraction, where students
received a text message every 30 seconds. Students
in the two distraction groups had to respond to the
texts when they occurred, and all students recorded
notes during the lecture and were tested following the
lecture. Results showed that text distractions lowered
note-taking quantity. Those in the control group
recorded 33% of lesson ideas, compared to 27% for
the low-distraction group and 20% for the high-
distraction group. Text distractions also lowered
achievement. The control group outscored the low-
distraction group by 7% and the high-distraction group
by 13% on a multiple-choice test and recalled
approximately 50% and 100% more lesson ideas than
those groups, respectively.
It is evident that students cyber slack in class and that
doing so diminishes attention, note taking, and
achievement. Some instructors, after observing
students using digital technology to send emails and
surf the Internet during class, have simply outlawed
digital devices in class and insisted on longhand note
taking (Fink, 2010). Flanigan and Kiewra (2018),
meanwhile, offer instructors a menu of classroom
strategies to minimize student cyber slacking, such as
incorporating active learning experiences in the
classroom, adopting and enforcing technology
policies, making students aware of cyber-slacking
temptations and consequences, incentivizing
students to relinquish mobile phones in the
classroom, and incorporating mobile technology in the
classroom as a teaching tool.
Use PowerPoint Slides Effectively
Lessons taught using PowerPoint slides can aid
student attention, note taking, and achievement. Frey
and Birnbaum (2002) examined student perceptions
of PowerPoint presentations and found that 69% of
students believed that such presentations held their
attention and 80% believed that printed PowerPoint
handouts helped them take notes. Positive note-
taking findings were confirmed in another study
(Susskind, 2005), where half the lectures were taught
in a traditional format and half were accompanied by
PowerPoint slides. Students who experienced both
formats reported that note taking was easier, more
extensive, and more organized for PowerPoint
lectures than for traditional lectures.
Instructors can raise student achievement by posting
PowerPoint slides in advance of class. Chen and Lin
(2008) tracked students’ behavior of downloading
PowerPoint slides before classes over one semester
and their performances on three examinations during
that semester. Downloading PowerPoint slides before
classes had a large and positive effect on exam
performanceeven more than students’ class
attendance. Speaking of class attendance, be warned
that providing PowerPoint slides might decrease
students’ class attendance. Among surveyed
students, 75% agreed or strongly agreed that they
were less motivated to attend class when PowerPoint
slides were available (Gurrie & Fair, 2010).
When instructors provide students with PowerPoint
slides, they should provide space for note taking.
Students report that they learn better when they can
simultaneously view the PowerPoint lesson and take
notes (Gurrie & Fair, 2010). When providing note-
taking space, instructors should follow two guidelines.
First, the space should be ample; the more space that
is provided, the more notes students will record (Boye,
2012). Second, instructors should place the note-
taking space in close proximity to the related
information. According to Mayer’s spatial-contiguity
principle (2007), people learn more from a
multimedia lesson when corresponding printed words
and graphics are presented near, rather than far from,
each other on the page or screen. Spatial contiguity
helps students build associations between notes and
the corresponding information on slides.
Teach Note-Taking Skills
According to Kiewra (2009), a Grade-A teacher
presents information so effectively that students
cannot help but learn. To aid student note taking,
Teacher A might slow the lecture, provide pauses to
facilitate revision, insert lesson cues, provide partial
notes, and outlaw unnecessary mobile technology.
Although such teaching is certainly effective, it does
not necessarily teach students how to learn on their
own when they attend other classes. For that, Teacher
A+ is needed (Kiewra, 2009). Teacher A+ does all the
effective, nearly-guaranteed-student-learning things
that Teacher A does, but also something more.
Teacher A+ teaches students how to learn by
embedding strategy instruction into content
instruction. That is, as Teacher A+ teaches math or
science or history or art, he or she also teaches
lifelong strategies, such as those for note taking.
Kiewra believes that all instructors have the
opportunity if not the obligation to embed strategy
training in content instruction and teach students how
to learn. Let us see how Teacher A+ might embed
strategy training related to note taking.
Class, I noticed that many of you recorded
incomplete notes when I spoke last week
about creativity. Here is a set of complete
notes that I created for that lesson to model
good note taking. I numbered each lesson
point so that you can compare my notes with
yours to see how many lesson points you
omitted from your notes.
I’m not surprised that most of you recorded
about one third of the information compared
to the notes that I provided. Research shows
that most students record only one third of
important lesson ideas. That’s too bad,
because research also shows that the more
notes that students record, the higher their
test performance.
Let me teach you a strategy that I call note
revision, which will make your notes more
complete. Soon after a lesson, reread your
notes and try to recall and record lesson
information missing from them. For example,
you noted that “adaptive creativity is the
ability to use past knowledge to solve
everyday problems”; that note might remind
you of related information not contained in
your notes, such as that adaptive creativity
takes 3 to 5 years to master, or the adaptive
creativity example of a homemaker preparing
dinner for uninvited guests. Record such
information in your revised notes to make
them as complete as possible. Here’s
another tip: When you revise notes, try to do
so with a partner, because that way you can
share recorded ideas and make revisions
together. Two heads are better than one.
Help Students Transform Notes and SOAR to Success
Recording a complete set of notes is not the ultimate
goal. As mentioned earlier, the primary value of note
taking lies in reviewing recorded notes. Unfortunately,
students often review their notes in shallow and
ineffective waysstudying one idea at a time in a
piecemeal fashion and employing redundant
strategies such as recopying and rehearsing notes
(Gubbels, 1999; Jairam & Kiewra, 2010; Van Meter et
al., 1994). It has long been known that these shallow
review activities do little to boost achievement
(Jacoby, 1973).
Just as instructors can facilitate the note-taking
process, they can facilitate note review by helping
students transform their notes in ways that help them
SOAR to success (see Kiewra, 2009). SOAR is an
acronym for the four critical aspects of learning:
select, organize, associate, and regulate. When
students record complete notes, they fulfill the select
aspect of SOAR: They select and record all the
important lesson information for further study.
Having a complete set of notes is advantageous, but
the form of most notes is not. Most notes are in linear
forma series of sentences and lists that obscure
associations among lesson ideas. Whenever possible,
instructors should help students fulfill the organize
aspect of SOAR by providing them with or helping
them create graphic organizers, such as matrices,
that readily reveal lesson associations (Kiewra, 2012).
Figure 3 shows a set of matrix notes about the
psychology topic of reinforcement schedules.
Figure 3. Matrix notes for a lesson on reinforcement schedules.
Notice how easy this matrix makes it to identify
associations, SOAR’s third aspect; for example, (a)
Ratio schedules are based on numbers, whereas
interval schedules are based on time; (b) Ratio
schedules produce rapid responding, whereas interval
schedules produce slow responding; and (c) Fixed
schedules are easy to extinguish, whereas variable
schedules are difficult to extinguish.
SOAR’s fourth aspect, regulation, involves students
evaluating their own learning in advance of the actual
test (or other assessment). Instructors can aid
regulation by giving students retrieval practice
(Karpicke, 2012), such as the following questions for
reinforcement schedules: (a) Which schedule is
associated with slow and steady responding?;
(b) What is the result of extinction for a response
learned on a variable schedule?; and (c) Every time a
factory worker makes 5 widgets, she is paid $30.
What schedule is this?
SOAR strategies work. Students studying SOAR
materials that they helped create for a lesson on
wildcats learned 29% more facts and 63% more
associations than students using their own preferred
study methods (Jairam & Kiewra, 2010). Students
who created their own SOAR study materials for a
lesson on apes, following just 30 minutes of SOAR
training, learned 8% more facts and 31% more
associations than students who used their preferred
study methods (Daher & Kiewra, 2016).
Most students record notes, which is good, because
note taking serves both a process and product
function. The bad news is that most students record
only approximately one third of important lesson
ideas, leaving them with woefully incomplete notes for
review. Fortunately, there are several things
instructors can do to boost note taking. Instructional
strategies aimed at boosting note taking include
providing complete notes, partial notes, or note-taking
cues; re-presenting the lesson; providing pauses and
revision opportunities; controlling laptop usage and
cyber slacking; using PowerPoint slides effectively;
and teaching note-taking skills. In addition, the SOAR
strategy can help students transform their notes into
optimal review materials and SOAR to success. With
all these options available, instructors should be able
to vastly improve student note taking and review.
Author Biographies
Kenneth A. Kiewra is professor of educational psychology at the University of NebraskaLincoln. He earned his PhD
in educational psychology and instructional design from Florida State University and was also on the faculty at
Kansas State University and Utah State University. Kiewra’s research pertains to teaching and learning. He has
investigated the SOAR teaching-and-study method, which he established, and world-class talent development. He is
the former director of the University of Nebraska’s Academic Success Center and the former editor of Educational
Psychology Review. His work and contact information are available on his Web site:
Tiphaine Colliot is a doctoral student of educational and cognitive psychology at Rennes 2 University in France. Her
research interests include learning strategies, graphic organizers, multimedia learning, and generation effects. She
holds a master’s degree in psychology from Rennes 2 University, France.
Junrong Lu is a doctoral student of educational psychology at the University of NebraskaLincoln. Her research
interests include learning strategies, creativity and talent development, and professional development in early
childhood education and STEM education. She holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Beijing Normal
University, China.
Aguilar-Roca, N. M., Williams, A. E., & O’Dowd, D. K. (2012). The impact of
laptop-free zones on student performance and attitudes in large lectures.
Computers & Education, 59, 1300–1308.
Armbruster, B. B. (2000). Taking notes from lectures. In R. F. Flippo & D. C.
Caverly (Eds.), Handbook of college reading and study strategy research (pp.
175–199). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Austin, J. L., Lee, M., & Carr, J. P. (2004). The effects of guided notes on
undergraduate students’ recording of lecture content. Journal of Instructional
Psychology, 31, 314–320.
Bassili, J. N., & Joordens, S. (2008). Media player tool use, satisfaction with
online lectures and examination performance. International Journal of E-
Learning & Distance Education, 22, 93–108.
Bauer, A., & Koedinger, K. R. (2007, April). Selection-based note-taking
applications. In Proceedings of the SIGCHI conference on human factors in
computing systems (pp. 981–990). ACM.
Bligh, D. A. (2000). What’s the use of lectures? San Francisco, CA: Jossey-
Bonner, J. M., & Holliday, W. G. (2006). How college science students engage
in note-taking strategies. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 43, 786
Boye, A. (2012). Note-taking in the 21st century: Tips for instructors and
students. Texas Tech University, Teaching, Learning, and Professional
Development Center.
Brown, C. M. (1999). Human-computer interface design guidelines. Exeter,
UK: Intellect Books.
Bui, D. C., & Myerson, J. (2014). The role of working memory abilities in
lecture note-taking. Learning and Individual Differences, 33, 1222.
Castello, M., & Monereo, C. (2005). Students’ note-taking as a knowledge-
construction tool. Educational Studies in Language and Literature, 5, 265
Chen, J., & Lin, T. F. (2008). Does downloading PowerPoint slides before the
lecture lead to better student achievement? International Review of
Economics Education, 7, 918.
Colliot, T., & Jamet, E. (2018a). Does self-generating a graphic organizer
improve students’ learning? Computers & Education, 126, 13–22.
Colliot, T., & Jamet, E. (2018b). How does adding versus self-generating a
hierarchical outline while learning from a multimedia document influence
students' performances? Computers in Human Behavior, 80, 354361.
Colliot, T., & Jamet, E. (2018c). Does Viewing or (Totally or Partially) Self-
Generating a Graphic Organizer Improve Students’ Learning? EARLI SIG 2
Comprehension of Text and Graphics, August, 27th-29th, Freiburg, Germany.
Crawford, C. C. (1925). The correlation between lecture notes and quiz
papers. The Journal of Educational Research, 12, 282291.
Crooks, S. M., White, D. R., & Barnard, L. (2007). Factors influencing the
effectiveness of note taking on computer-based graphic organizers. Journal
of Educational Computing Research, 37(4), 369–391.
Daher, T., & Kiewra, K. A. (2016). An investigation of SOAR study strategies
for learning from multiple online resources. Contemporary Educational
Psychology, 46, 10–21.
Dietz, S., & Henrich, C. (2014). Texting as a distraction to learning in college
students. Computers in Human Behavior, 36, 163167.
Einstein, G. O., Morris, J., & Smith, S. (1985). Note-taking, individual
differences, and memory for lecture information. Journal of Educational
Psychology, 77(5), 522–532.
Emanuel, R. C. (2013). The American college student cell phone survey.
College Student Journal, 47(1), 75–81.
Fink III, J. L. (2010). Why we banned use of laptops and scribe notes: our
classroom. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, 74(6), 1–2.
Fisher, J. L., & Harris, M. B. (1973). Effect of note taking and review on recall.
Journal of Educational Psychology, 65, 321325.
Flanigan, A. E. (2018). How instructional design, academic motivation, and
self-regulated learning tendencies contribute to cyber-slacking? (Unpublished
doctoral dissertation). University of Nebraska, Lincoln.
Flanigan, A. E., & Kiewra, K. A. (2018). What college instructors can do about
student cyber-slacking. Educational Psychology Review, 30, 585597.
Frey, B. A., & Birnbaum, D. J. (2002). Learners’ perceptions on the value of
PowerPoint in lectures. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No.
Fried, C. B. (2008). In-class laptop use and its effects on student learning.
Computers & Education, 50, 906914.
Froese, A. D., Carpenter, C. N., Inman, D. A., Schooley, J. R., Barnes, R. B.,
Brecht, P. W., et al. (2012). Effects of classroom cell phone use on expected
and actual learning. College Student Journal, 46(2), 323332.
Glover, J. A., Zimmer, J. W., Ronning, R. R., & Petersen, C. H. (1980). Nobody
knows how to remember that prose. The Journal of Educational Research,
73(6), 340–343.
Gubbels, P. S. (1999). College student studying: A collective case study.
(Unpublished doctoral dissertation). University of Nebraska, Lincoln.
Gurrie, C., & Fair, B. (2010). Power Point—From fabulous to boring: The
misuse of Power Point in higher education classrooms. Journal of the
Communication, Speech & Theatre Association of North Dakota, 23, 23–30.
Igo, L. B., Bruning, R., & McCrudden, M. T. (2005). Exploring differences in
students’ copy-and-paste decision making and processing: A mixed-methods
study. Journal of Educational Psychology, 97(1), 103–116.
Igo, L. B., Bruning, R. H., McCrudden, M. T., & Kauffman, D. F. (2003).
InfoGather: Six experiments toward the development of an online, data-
gathering tool. In R. Bruning, C. A. Horn, & L. M. Pytlik-Zillig (Eds.), Web-based
learning: What do we know? Where do we go? (pp. 5777). Greenwich, CT:
Information Age Publishing.
Igo, L. B., & Kiewra, K. A. (2007). How do high-achieving students approach
web-based, copy and paste note taking? Selective pasting and related
learning outcomes. Journal of Advanced Academics, 18(4), 512–529.
Igo, L. B., Kiewra, K. A., & Bruning, R. (2008). Individual differences and
intervention flaws: A sequential explanatory study of college studentscopy-
and-paste note taking. Journal of Mixed Methods Research, 2(2), 149168.
Jacoby, L. L. (1973). Encoding processes, rehearsal, and recall requirements.
Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior, 12, 302–310.
Jairam, D., & Kiewra, K. A. (2010). Helping students soar to success on
computers: An investigation of the SOAR study method. Journal of
Educational Psychology, 102, 601–614.
Johnstone, A. H., & Su, W. Y. (1994). Lectures—A learning experience?
Education in Chemistry, 31(3), 75–76.
Karat, C. M., Halverson, C., Horn, D., & Karat, J. (1999). Patterns of entry and
correction in large vocabulary continuous speech recognition systems. In
Proceedings of the SIGCHI conference on human factors in computing
systems (pp. 568–575). New York: ACM.
Karpicke, J. D. (2012). Retrieval-based learning: Active retrieval promotes
meaningful learning. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 21, 157
Katayama, A. D., & Crooks, S. M. (2003). Online notes: Differential effects of
studying complete or partial graphically organized notes. Journal of
Experimental Education, 71, 293312.
Katayama, A. D., & Robinson, D. H. (2000). Getting students partially
involved in note-taking using graphic organizers. Journal of Experimental
Education, 68, 119133.
Katayama, A. D., Shambaugh, R. N., & Doctor, T. (2005). Promoting
knowledge transfer with electronic note taking. Teaching of Psychology, 32,
Kiewra, K. A. (1985). Investigating notetaking and review: A depth of
processing alternative. Educational Psychologist, 20, 23–32.
Kiewra, K. A. (1989). A review of note-taking: The encoding-storage paradigm
and beyond. Educational Psychology Review, 1, 147–172.
Kiewra, K. A. (2009). Teaching how to learn. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin
Kiewra, K. A. (2012). Using graphic organizers to improve teaching and
learning. The IDEA Center. Retrieved from
Kiewra, K. A. (2016). Note taking on trial: A legal application of note-taking
research. Educational Psychology Review, 28(2), 377384.
Kiewra, K. A., & Benton, S. L. (1987). Effects of notetaking, the instructor’s
notes, and higher-order practice questions on factual and higher-order
learning. Journal of Instructional Psychology, 14, 186194.
Kiewra, K. A., & Benton, S. L. (1988). The relationship between information-
processing ability and notetaking. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 13,
Kiewra, K. A., Benton, S. L., Kim, S., Risch, N., & Christensen, M. (1995).
Effects of note-taking format and study technique on recall and relational
performance. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 20, 172187.
Kiewra, K. A., Benton, S. L., & Lewis, L. B. (1987). Qualitative aspects of
notetaking and their relationship with information processing ability. Journal
of Instructional Psychology, 14, 110117.
Kiewra, K. A., Mayer, R. E., Christensen, M., Kim, S.-I., & Risch, N. (1991).
Effects of repetition on recall and note-taking: Strategies for learning from
lectures. Journal of Educational Psychology, 83, 120–123.
Knight, L. J., & McKelvie, S. J. (1986). Effects of attendance, note-taking, and
review on memory for a lecture: Encoding vs. external storage functions of
notes. Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science, 18, 5261.
Kobayashi, K. (2005). What limits the encoding effect of note-taking? A meta-
analytic examination. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 30, 242262.
Kobayashi, K. (2006). Combined effects of note-taking/reviewing on learning
and the enhancement through interventions: A meta-analytic review.
Educational Psychology, 26, 459477.
Kornhauser, Z. G. C., Paul, A. L., & Siedlecki, K. L. (2016). An examination of
studentsuse of technology for non-academic purposes in the college
classroom. Journal of Teaching and Learning with Technology, 5(1), 1–15.
Kuznekoff, J. H., & Titsworth, S. (2013). The impact of mobile phone usage on
student learning. Communication Education, 62(3), 233252.
Lauricella, S., & Kay, R. (2010). Assessing laptop use in higher education
classrooms: The laptop effectiveness scale (LES). Australasian Journal of
Educational Technology, 26(2), 151–163.
Locke, E. A. (1977). An empirical study of lecture note taking among college
students. Journal of Educational Research, 77, 9399.
Luo, L., Kiewra, K. A., Flanigan, A., & Peteranetz, M. (in press). Laptop versus
longhand note taking: Effects on lecture notes and achievement.
Instructional Science.
Luo, L., Kiewra, K. A., & Samuelson, L. (2016). Revising lecture notes: how
revision, pauses, and partners affect note taking and achievement.
Instructional Science, 44, 4567.
Maddox, H., & Hoole, E. (1975). Performance decrement in the
lecture. Educational Review, 28(1), 1730.
Mayer, R. E. (2007). Research-based guidelines for multimedia instruction.
Reviews of Human Factors and Ergonomics, 3, 127–147.
McCoy, B. R. (2013). Digital distractions in the classroom: Student classroom
use of digital devices for non-class related purposes. Journal of Media
Education, 4(4), 5–14.
McCoy, B. R. (2016). Digital distractions in the classroom phase II: Student
classroom use of digital devices for non-class related purposes. Journal of
Media Education, 7(1), 532.
Moore, J. C. (1968). Cueing for selective note taking. Journal of Experimental
Education, 36, 69–72.
Mueller, P. A., & Oppenheimer, D. M. (2014). The pen is mightier than the
keyboard: Advantages of longhand over laptop note taking. Psychological
Science, 25, 11591168.
Nye, P. A., Crooks, T. J., Powley, M., & Tripp, G. (1984). Student note-taking
related to university examination performance. Higher Education, 13(1), 85–
Peper, R. J., & Mayer, R. E. (1978). Note taking as a generative activity.
Journal of Educational Psychology, 70(4), 514522.
Peper, R. J., & Mayer, R. E. (1986). Generative effects of note-taking during
science lectures. Journal of Educational Psychology, 78, 34–38.
Pettijohn, T. F., Frazier, E., Rieser, E., Vaughn, N., & Hupp-Wildsde, B. (2015).
Classroom texting in college students. College Student Journal, 49(4), 513–
Peverly, S. T., Garner, J. K., & Vekaria, P. C. (2014). Both handwriting speed
and selective attention are important to lecture note-taking. Reading and
Writing, 27, 1–30.
Peverly, S. T., Vekaria, P. C., Reddington, L. A., Sumowski, J. F., Johnson, K. R.,
& Ramsay, C. M. (2013). The relationship of handwriting speed, working
memory, language comprehension and outlines to lecture note-taking and
test-taking among college students. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 27, 115
Piolat, A., Olive, T., & Kellogg, R. T. (2005). Cognitive effort during note taking.
Applied Cognitive Psychology, 19, 291312.
Ragan, E. D., Jennings, S. R., Massey, J. D., & Doolittle, P. E. (2014).
Unregulated use of laptops over time in large lecture halls. Computers &
Education, 62, 24–31.
Rickards, J. P., & Friedman, F. (1978). The encoding versus the external
storage hypothesis in note taking. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 3,
Rickards, J. P., & McCormick, C. B. (1988). Effect of interspersed conceptual
prequestions on note-taking in listening comprehension. Journal of
Educational Psychology, 80(4), 592–594.
Riley, J. D., & Dyer, J. (1979). The effects of notetaking while reading or
listening. Reading World, 19(1), 51–56.
Shrager, L., & Mayer, R. E. (1989). Note-taking fosters generative learning
strategies in novices. Journal of Educational Psychology, 81, 263264.
Stacy, E. M., & Cain, J. (2015). Note-taking and handouts in the digital
age. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, 79(7), 107, 1–6.
Stull, A. T., & Mayer, R. E. (2007). Learning by doing versus learning by
viewing: Three experimental comparisons of learner-generated versus author-
provided graphic organizers. Journal of Educational Psychology, 99(4), 808–
Suritsky, S. K., & Hughes, C. A. (1991). Benefits of notetaking: Implications
for secondary and postsecondary students with learning disabilities. Learning
Disability Quarterly, 14, 718.
Susskind, J. E. (2005). PowerPoint’s power in the classroom: enhancing
students’ self-efficacy and attitudes. Computers & Education, 45, 203215.
Titsworth, B. S. (2004). Students’ note taking: The effects of teacher
immediacy and clarity. Communication Education, 53, 305320.
Titsworth, B. S., & Kiewra, K. A. (2004). Spoken organizational lecture cues
and student notetaking as facilitators of student learning. Contemporary
Educational Psychology, 29, 447461.
Trevors, G., Duffy, M., & Azevedo, R. (2014). Note-taking within MetaTutor:
Interactions between an intelligent tutoring system and prior knowledge on
note-taking and learning. Educational Technology Research and
Development, 62(5), 507–528.
Van Meter, P., Yokoi, L., & Pressley, M. (1994). College students’ theory of
note taking derived from their perceptions of note taking. Journal of
Educational Psychology, 86, 323338.
Wong, L. (2014). Essential study skills (8th ed.). Stamford, CT: Cengage
Our research and publications benefitting the higher education community, are supported by charitable contributions.
Please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to IDEA to sustain our research now and into the future.
... Teachers can keep this outline brief, knowing that they will provide detail to the points during the discussion or lecture. Moreover, research has shown that information projected on the screen (e.g., Powerpoint™) or written on the board is more likely to show up in students' notes (Kiewra et al., 2018;Titsworth & Kiewra, 2004). In some cases, approximately 88% of the information that was written on the board showed up in students' notes versus 52% of information not written on the board was recorded by students during a lecture (Kiewra et al., 2018;Locke, 1977). ...
... Moreover, research has shown that information projected on the screen (e.g., Powerpoint™) or written on the board is more likely to show up in students' notes (Kiewra et al., 2018;Titsworth & Kiewra, 2004). In some cases, approximately 88% of the information that was written on the board showed up in students' notes versus 52% of information not written on the board was recorded by students during a lecture (Kiewra et al., 2018;Locke, 1977). Next, because students often have a difficult time writing down all of the information, they suggested that teachers explain content better and speak slower. ...
Full-text available
For students with learning disabilities (SWLD), note-taking during lectures and discussions is a cognitively demanding task. The multitasking elements of recording verbal information and the temporal nature of a verbal lecture make it difficult for SWLD to record notes effectively. Smartpens are new technology that can help students to become better note takers by storing verbal lecture information and syncing it up later when students amend their notes. This article provides an overview of the research on smartpens, including two smartpen strategies that improved the note taking of SWLD, and tips for teachers about how to use these strategies in the classroom.
... Encourage active learning by using problem-based and case-based learning activities [3]. Use synchronous online sessions for live lectures, discussions, and office hours, use asynchronous online sessions for self-paced activities and assessments [4], Provide clear and detailed instructions for assignments and assessments, Utilize formative assessments to monitor student progress and adjust teaching accordingly [5], Encourage self-reflection and metacognition through regular self-assessment activities [6], Foster a sense of community among students through online discussions and group projects, Ensure that online course materials are accessible and meet accessibility standards, Provide opportunities for students to give feedback on the course and teaching [1], Encourage students to seek out additional resources, such as online forums and library databases, Use data analytics to track student performance and adjust teaching strategies accordingly, Use social media platforms to facilitate student engagement and collaboration [7], Provide regular updates on course progress and upcoming assignments through email and announcements, Continuously evaluate and update the course materials and teaching methods to improve student outcomes, Help students develop effective notetaking strategies [8], Encourage students to engage with the literature by asking them to write summaries, critiques, or reflections [9], Discuss ethical considerations related to literature survey, such as plagiarism and bias [10], Provide opportunities for students to present their literature survey findings to peers or the wider community, Help students develop effective search strategies for finding relevant literature, Provide opportunities for students to practice their literature survey skills through multiple assignments. ...
... Furthermore, for students who have difficulties comprehending vocabulary, teachers believe that making students do mind mapping/taking-note and make a personal approach can help students comprehend vocabulary. Note-taking is potentially effective and important for student achievement (Kiewra, 2018) because taking notes can help students remember and write correctly the spelling of the vocabulary they are learning. A personal approach is very useful for improving students' vocabulary mastery because a personal approach emphasizes the differences of each individual so that this activity is able to help teachers find the focus of a student's problem which is then able to find the best teaching strategy for that student. ...
Various teaching methods and techniques have been the focus of numerous studies on teaching strategies used to increase students' vocabulary understanding. Few studies, however, have looked at the methods teachers employ to increase their students' vocabulary mastery through retrospective study. This retrospective review of the study collected various types of teaching strategies that benefit teachers. Researchers combined a descriptive method with a qualitative research approach with a questionnaire design for this study. Instruments in this research is a survey in the form of google form. The types of questions in previous research surveys used many types of closed-ended questions in the form of statements. In contrast, the types of questions in this study used many open-ended questions that produced answers consisting of many ideas. Fifteen English teachers who teach English in Medan are the subjects of this study. The result of this research is the strategies used by teachers in teaching student vocabulary mastery are very diverse depending on students' and teachers' abilities. The more diverse the teacher's teaching strategies, the more successfully students will learn new words. The teaching strategy is then divided into three, namely preparation, practice, and evaluation strategies. In the end, it is anticipated that the findings of this study will help teachers succeed in developing their students’ vocabulary mastery.Various teaching methods and techniques have been the focus of numerous studies on teaching strategies used to increase students' vocabulary understanding. Few studies, however, have looked at the methods teachers employ to increase their students' vocabulary mastery through retrospective study. This retrospective review of the study collected various types of teaching strategies that benefit teachers. Researchers combined a descriptive method with a qualitative research approach with a questionnaire design for this study. Instruments in this research is a survey in the form of google form. The types of questions in previous research surveys used many types of closed-ended questions in the form of statements. In contrast, the types of questions in this study used many open-ended questions that produced answers consisting of many ideas. Fifteen English teachers who teach English in Medan are the subjects of this study. The result of this research is the strategies used by teachers in teaching student vocabulary mastery are very diverse depending on students' and teachers' abilities. The more diverse the teacher's teaching strategies, the more successfully students will learn new words. The teaching strategy is then divided into three, namely preparation, practice, and evaluation strategies. In the end, it is anticipated that the findings of this study will help teachers succeed in developing their students’ vocabulary mastery.
... GN still involve a considerable amount of writing which makes simultaneous thinking and following of the lecture difficult (Krapf, in press) 16. GN are more prone to incompleteness and errors than FN (Kiewra, 1985b;Kiewra et al., 2018) Final coding scheme Category1 Description Example P1: Attendance GN increase the incentive to attend lectures. ...
Full-text available
Note-taking in tertiary education is a challenging activity which requires listening, processing and recording new information at the same time. However, in lectures at a high presentation rate, students often have to choose between these activities. One solution which is frequently proposed to mitigate this problem is the use of guided notes, instructor-provided handouts containing blanks that are filled in class. In this article, we investigate how the provision of guided notes in an undergraduate mathematics course can support student learning. A self-report survey reveals that students value guided notes as a tool to remain focussed during the lecture, to process and store new information and to foster active engagement. Moreover, they prefer guided notes both compared to lectures without instructor-provided notes and with full notes.
... This important question has only recently been investigated because of the steep and recent rise in computer note taking (e.g., Aguilar-Roca et al., 2012;Morehead, et al., 2019;Peverly & Wolf, 2019;Witherby & Tauber, 2019), and findings are mixed (Bui et al., 2013;Fiorella & Mayer, 2016;Luo et al., 2018;Morehead et al., 2019;Mueller & Oppenheimer, 2014;Urry et al., 2021). The present study adds to that literature but is unique in its investigation of note-taking mediums for computer-based learning, in that learning was measured immediately following the lesson when notes were not reviewed (the process function of note taking) and measured following a delay when notes were reviewed (the product function of note taking) (see Kiewra et al., 2018). Moreover, to our knowledge, no previous research has assessed how graphic organizer completeness combined with note-taking mediums affect computer-based learning. ...
Full-text available
The purpose of this study was to determine how graphic organizer completeness (complete, partial, or no organizer) and note-taking medium (longhand or computer) affect note-taking quantity and quality and affect computer-based learning. College students were presented with a computer-based PowerPoint lesson accompanied by complete, partial, or no graphic organizers. Throughout the lesson, students recorded notes using either longhand or computer mediums. Students were tested immediately following the lesson and again two days later following a review period during which graphic organizers and notes were studied. Finally, students completed a survey. Results revealed that organizer completeness affected achievement. Those given complete organizers generally achieved more than those with partial or no organizers across fact-, relationship-, concept-, and skill-based test items. Note-taking medium did not affect achievement differentially, but there were important note-taking findings. Longhand note takers recorded more lesson ideas in notes and had fewer verbatim strings in notes (reflective of more generative processing) compared to computer note takers. Moreover, longhand note takers reported more positive attitudes about their note-taking medium than did computer note takers. Results suggested that complete organizers aid germane load more than partial organizers and that longhand note taking results in deeper processing than does computer note taking. Therefore, instructors should provide complete organizers to promote student learning and should encourage students to take longhand notes when they learn in a computer-based learning environment.
Full-text available
This study presents the results of an action-research project conducted at the University of Poitiers, with the aim to provide pedagogical support for teaching practices that encourage students’ note-taking. The research-action involved a reflective approach by the lecturer based on the results of a questionnaire on note-taking measuring teaching practices. This innovative questionnaire was the central instrument of the support process, making it possible to compare the views of the lecturer and his or her students. The first part of the questionnaire provides information on the teaching methods used by the lecturer during the course; the second part asks the students about their feelings regarding their ability to take notes during a lecture. The pedagogical support contributed in particular to the increase of the lecturer’s awareness of certain aspects of his communication during the lecture by enabling him to implement pedagogical methods that encourage his students to take notes. Following this support, the students expressed, through their answers to the questionnaire, that the teacher's new teaching practices had improved their note-taking.
Full-text available
Ta-talk is an activity for practicing speaking fluency. In this small-group activity, students choose a speech topic of their interest from a list, take a minute to prepare for their speech, and then talk about their topic in English for one minute. It focuses on speed and quantity over accuracy, and this is gauged by counting how many words are spoken in one minute. This quick activity provides students fluency practice within their linguistic competence, while the group aspect also helps them learn to give feedback to and pick up useful expressions from each other.
Full-text available
Note-taking is one of important skills students need to practice in order to understand the content of both printed and unprinted texts effectively. To do note-taking, readers can do either manually or digitally. However, with the advancement of technology nowadays especially in this pandemic era, readers can practice note-taking more easily with the use of technological tools, such as laptop and mobile. This descriptive qualitative research aims to discover how university students practice note-taking particularly to explore their note-taking strategy and preference for refining literature review in English academic writing. This included identifying the strategy they apply in note-taking practices to understand the content of the articles they read and identifying their note-taking. To explore the issue, the researcher collected data through questionnaires and interview with 62 English students taking academic writing who have intense note-taking practices as part of the course activities. The results of this study showed the majority of millennial students prefer using digital note-taking with 66.12% responses. They decided to use it as it is faster and easier in doing note-taking. The digital technology that the students used commonly was mobile phone with 54.84% responses. They chose this tool to practice note-taking as it is handy.
With the growth of English Medium Instruction (EMI) in countries around the world, L2 learners face many challenges, one of which is lecture notetaking. Researchers in the field of L2 listening have sought ways to improve learners’ notetaking skills, but one potentially useful tool, the smartpen, has received little attention. With smartpens, learners can take notes on paper, digitize them, then synchronize them with an audio recording of the lecture. They can then tap anywhere in their digitized notes and hear the corresponding audio for that section, greatly facilitating review. With this functionality in mind, this paper examines the potential benefits of smartpens for notetaking. It first provides an overview of the skill of notetaking and a description of smartpens, and then examines research on their use in L1 and L2 contexts. The paper concludes with a call for more research into this potentially productive area. 世界各国では、授業言語としての英語(EMI: English as a Medium of Instruction)の普及に伴い、EFL学習者は様々な課題に直面しており、その一つが講義を聞きながらノートをとるノートテーキングである。これまでもL2リスニング研究者は学習者のノートテーキング・スキルの向上方法を探ってきたが、一つのツール、すなわちスマートペンはあまり注目されてこなかった。スマートペンを利用すると、学習者が手書きでノートを取り、それをデジタル化し、講義の音声と同期させることができる。そうすれば、デジタル化したノートのどこにでも触れられその部分の音声を聞くことができるため、講義の復習を促進する。これを踏まえ、本論では、講義ノートテーキングにおけるスマートペンの潜在的な利点を考察する。講義ノートテーキング・スキルを概観した後、スマートペンの特徴を説明し、L1及びL2環境における研究について述べる。最後に、この潜在的に有益な研究分野において、さらなる研究の必要性を示唆する。
第二言語における語彙学習について、文章を読んだり聞いたりしながら文脈の中で行うべきだとする主張がある一方で、文脈から切り離して単語を単独で明示的に学習する方法の有効性も報告されている。本研究の目的は、日本語を母語とする高校生にとって、英単語をチャンクで覚える方法と単独で覚える方法のどちらが英単語の日本語訳を覚えるのに有効であるかを検証することであった。それら二つの方法を用いた語彙指導を3週間行い、事前テストおよび計3回の事後テストを実施した。実験の結果、両方法ともに学習後18週間まで効果があり、二つの学習法に統計的に有意な差は認められないことが判明した。また、調査した20語の中には覚えにくい単語や忘れやすい単語があり、単語単独で学習する方法では、長期的に記憶に留めておくことが難しい単語があることが明らかになった。よって、これら二つの語彙学習法を相互補完的に用いることが望ましいことが示唆された。 Some researchers argue that vocabulary should be learned with context since it provides learners with the idea as to how the word is used in communication. However, other researchers insist that teaching vocabulary in isolation from context is also effective since learners can concentrate on learning the target words. Thus, the purpose of this study is to investigate the effectiveness of two methods of learning vocabulary: learning words in chunks and in isolation. The study also aims to analyze if there are any words that are easy or difficult to learn and to retain. The results of the posttests showed that the two methods were equally effective for memorizing Japanese translations of English words. However, it was revealed that some words were difficult to retain when they were learned in isolation. The authors argue that teachers should complementarily make efficient use of these two methods in their classroom.
Full-text available
Notetaking is the primary method used by secondary and postsecondary students with learning disabilities (LD) to acquire lecture information. The literature on notetaking was reviewed to obtain an empirical base for designing effective notetaking programming and identifying critical areas for future research. Results include the benefits of recording and reviewing notes as well as identification of listener- and lecturer-controlled variables that influence effective notetaking. Findings are discussed in relation to the learner characteristics of secondary and postsecondary LD students.
Full-text available
There has been a shift in college classrooms from students recording lecture notes using a longhand pencil-paper medium to using laptops. The present study investigated whether note-taking medium (laptop, longhand) influenced note taking and achievement when notes were recorded but not reviewed (note taking’s process function) and when notes were recorded and reviewed (note taking’s product function). One unique aspect of the study was determining how laptop and longhand note taking influence the recording of lecture images in notes and image-related achievement. Note-taking results showed that laptop note takers recorded more notes (idea units and words) and more verbatim lecture strings than did longhand note takers who, in turn, recorded more visual notes (signals and images) than did laptop note takers. Achievement results showed that when taking laptop notes, the process function of note taking was more beneficial than the product function of note taking (i.e., better image-related learning and similar text-related learning). When taking longhand notes, the product function of note taking was more beneficial than the process function of note taking (i.e., better text-related learning and similar image-related learning). Achievement findings suggest that the optimal note-taking medium depends on the nature of the lecture and whether notes are reviewed.
Full-text available
Today’s traditional-aged college students are avid users of mobile technology. Commonly referred to as the Net Generation, today’s college students spend several hours each day using their smart phones, iPads, and laptops. Although some scholars initially opined that the Net Generation would grow into technologically savvy digital natives who would leverage their unprecedented access to technology for professional and academic betterment, contemporary research has rejected the digital native myth. Instead, college students frequently use mobile technology for off-task purposes while attending classroom lectures or doing schoolwork outside of class—a phenomenon known as cyber-slacking. This article provides college educators with an overview of the frequency and consequences of cyber-slacking inside and outside the classroom and seven instructional implications for curbing cyber-slacking. Proposed strategies for curbing cyber-slacking include rejecting the digital native myth, adopting and enforcing technology policies, consciousness raising, motivating students to relinquish their devices, incorporating active learning in the classroom, using mobile technology as a teaching tool, teaching students to be self-regulated learners, and motivating students to delay gratification from their mobile devices.
Full-text available
p>Previous research has shown that students who use technology in the classroom for non-academic purposes suffer decrements to their academic performance. These findings are consistent with theories and research in cognitive science. However, no current study has examined the sorts of technology that students use in class, their reasons for using it, and whether they feel that it is acceptable to use it. The current study sought to qualitatively explore these questions across a sample ( N = 105) of college students. Results reveal that the most common use of technology in the classroom is text messaging and emailing, and that students regularly use technology for a variety of non-academic reasons. Limitations of this study include the homogeneity of the participant sample. Future research should determine what factors lead students to use technology for non-academic purposes and also identify effective strategies for preventing or managing students’ use of technology for non-academic purposes in the college classroom.</p
Today’s traditional-aged college students spend several hours each day using their smart phones, iPads, and laptops. Although scholars initially believed these students—commonly referred to as the Net Generation—would leverage their nearly unlimited access to technology for professional and academic betterment, research suggests otherwise. Instead of using mobile technology as tools for success, college students frequently use mobile phones and laptops for off-task purposes while attending classroom lectures or doing schoolwork outside of class—a phenomenon known as cyber-slacking. Although much is known about the frequency, causes, and consequences of cyber-slacking, important gaps in the literature exist. The purpose of this dissertation was to understand the factors associated with classroom cyber-slacking. First, although college students have frequently self-reported a reduction in classroom cyber-slacking when instructors provide active learning experiences, no known studies have tested this relationship. Therefore, this dissertation included a quasi-experimental study that compared the live classroom cyber-slacking behaviors of college students who attended actively and passively presented lectures. Second, little is known about how academic motivation and self-regulation of learning tendencies relate to classroom cyber-slacking. Therefore, this dissertation surveyed college students about their academic motivation, self-regulation tendencies, and cyber-slacking behaviors to examine the linkages among these constructs. Findings from the present studies reinforce the notion that cyber-slacking is commonplace in college classrooms and negatively influences student attention and learning. Although instructional design did not influence cyber-slacking behaviors, student interest in course content and perceptions of the instrumentality of course content for achieving their academic or professional goals were identified as cyber-slacking catalysts. Moreover, the present research indicated that students who lack academic motivation or who are poor self-regulators of their own learning processes are especially vulnerable to cyber-slacking’s temptation.
This mixed-methods study investigated the effects of the SOAR study strategy for learning from multiple online resources. SOAR includes the components of selection, organization, association, and regulation. Past research confirmed that college students who study provided or partially provided SOAR materials achieved more than those using their preferred study methods when learning from a single printed (Jairam & Kiewra, 2009) or computer-based (Jairam & Kiewra, 2010) text. The present study was the first to investigate SOAR when college students create their own study materials and must learn from multiple online resources. In the present study, one hundred and thirty-four college students were assigned randomly to the preferred strategy control group or the SOAR strategy experimental group. Following a pre-survey and online training in their respective study strategy, both groups were directed to use their trained strategy to study scientific material available on multiple websites. Following the study period, participants were tested on the online material and then completed a post-survey. Qualitative analyses of pre-survey responses (before training) indicated that participants from both groups commonly use note taking, summarization, and memorization strategies to study online resources. Qualitative analyses of post-survey responses (after training) indicated that the preferred strategies control group used these same strategies to study the experimental material, whereas the SOAR-trained group used SOAR strategies. These qualitative data fit with quantitative data showing that (a) both groups created study materials reflective of their strategy training (preferred or SOAR); (b) SOAR strategy studiers achieved more than preferred strategy studiers on fact, relationship, and concept achievement items; and (c) SOAR-trained studiers had more positive attitudes about their trained methods than preferred-trained studiers.