What Do Today's Students Get Right And Wrong In How They Take Lecture Notes

Posted on May 7, 2019

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Do students take notes in an optimal fashion, in line with what psychology research identifies as best practice? Modern surveys reveal that most students’ preferred method in preparing for their examination is to memorize their notes. A team of researchers at Kent State University had done a done a survey on university students about their note-taking methods and preferences.

The researchers found that it is better to take notes with pen and paper rather typing on a laptop as laptops can be distracting to the note-taker and the people who sat near them. Despite that, nearly half of the researcher’s sample reported that they took lectures notes on a laptop. However, a third were flexible in their approach such as they used laptop to type notes only when the lecturer spoke quickly.

When it comes to learning from one’s notes, even though it’s more effective to use the notes to test yourself, passively re-reading the notes is still the more common strategy. Over 90 per cent of the current sample said they spent time re-reading while about half tested themselves.

There is an increasing number of students enrolling in online courses where they can re-watch the recorded lectures as many times as they like. The sample showed that only around half of the online-course students took notes. The researchers concluded that since the ability to re-watch online lectures does not negate the benefit of taking organized notes from them, nor using those notes for self-testing.

This is just one sample from US, and the findings could be different in other cultures and settings. However, there is no obvious reason to assume that the findings would be radically different elsewhere. It is rare for students to receive formal advice or tuition on how to take notes. Among the current sample, fewer than half of participants said they’d received any formal training and nearly 60 per cent said they would like to take better notes.

Category(s):Academic Issues

Source material from BPS Digest

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