Note taking is the process of recording
information from a source and it is a critical skill learned by students and
widely practiced in the educational sector. With the advancement of technology,
there is a shift between the different forms of note taking, namely the
traditional use of pen and paper, and the recent progression of using
electronics. This essay aims to critique four research articles on the study of
note taking and its effectiveness of certain methodologies used, to improve
student’s notetaking skills.
Is Mightier Than the Keyboard
This article aims to investigate whether
notetaking via a laptop is less effective than using the longhand method
(Mueller & Oppenheimer, 2014). Three experiments were conducted to
investigate whether taking notes on a laptop would affect student’s academic
performances, as opposed to writing longhand, and to explore the potential
mechanism of verbatim overlap as a proxy for the depth of processing.
They used an experimental design to achieve
a quantitative result. Five TED talk lectures were used, and students were left
inside the room to use their personal preference of taking notes – either via
their laptops or writing longhand. 67 participants – 33 males, 33 females, and
1 unknown, took part in the study. A good analysis and representation of gender
and sample size. However, the participants’ ethnicities and academic
qualifications were not presented.
Two more studies were conducted. The second
study involved 151 participants – 35
males, and 116 females. The aim was to replicate the findings of the first
study while the third study involved 109 participants – 27 males, and 82
females. Failure to present the dip in the gender stratification led to lack of
generalizability for both experiments. This experimental research findings
created doubt on the research’s reliability. Having a more equal gender,
ethnicity and academic background representation would improve the research
growing popularity of technology in educational sectors reflects that the hypothesis
of the arguments is logical. The research findings showed that laptop
notetaking can impair the quality of notes taken, compared to handwritten ones.
It was shown that the decrease of productive learning could be influenced by
the usage of laptop notetaking that increases verbatim copying. The lack of
definition for technical terms such as verbatim made the study unreliable.
conclusion, the hypotheses were presented with clear evidence stating that the
longhand method has more beneficial effects compared to the laptop notetaking. Moreover,
this research provided recommendations to both students and lecturers on the
best method of notetaking to maximize learning productivity. Researchers also
noted their insights on how to further improve the study.
experimental study of online chatting and note taking techniques on college
students’ cognitive learning from a lecture
The study investigates the effects of
notetaking and online chatting on college student’s recall of lecture content
and note quality (Wei,
Wang & Fass, 2014).
127 undergraduate college students – 60
males and 67 females, participated in this quantitative study, with diverse ethnicities
ranging from Caucasians (79.6%) to African Americans (12.6%). Detailed
statistics for the sample size such as gender and race were provided, though
sampling technique used was not mentioned. This might not prove to be an
accurate representation of the population due to the uncertain level of
stratification. The researchers could improve on the study by including a more ethnically
10-minute scripted lecture video was played during the research. The
independent variable (IV) being the notetaking method and chatting condition,
and the dependent variable (DV) being cognitive learning and note-taking
quality. The sample was split into 3 groups, one being no notetaking, another
being longhand notetaking and lastly, computer-mediated notetaking. The study
stated that there were limitations as the 10-min learning task is not
equivalent 50-min of student learning. If the study was done with more
realistic situations i.e. playing a video with the same duration as the normal
lecture, it would reflect a more accurate scenario to better address the
distractions in daily lecture settings.
The researchers hypothesized the four
cognitive learning areas – no notetaking, longhand notetaking, computer-mediated
notetaking, and the effects of online chatting. The researchers examined the
effects of notetaking on student’s learning performance.
Based on the external storage theory of notetaking, it
is debated that students learn content and retrieve information effectively with
how well they can encode the data.
Technical terminology was clearly defined
with examples to lessen the limitations and shortcomings to the arguments. The
research concluded that paying full attention during notetaking had a strong
influence on the student’s recall and notetaking quality, as opposed to having
online distractions which had detrimental effects on the quality of student’s
recall and notetaking. Thus, encouraging students to reduce distraction and
concentrate more to maximize learning.
Predicts Skill in Lecture Note Taking?
This article evaluates the relationship
between transcription fluency, verbal working memory, and the ability to
identify main ideas to the quality of notes (Peverly, Ramaswamy, Brown,
Sumowski, Alidoost & Garner, 2007).
85 undergraduate students taking an
introductory psychology course in a large university participated in the study,
75% being women and 25% men. They were tasked to watch
a 20-minute videotape on the psychology of problem solving. The participants
were then told to take detailed notes as they only had 10 minutes to study
their notes and were tasked to complete tests, such as letter fluency.
Participants were then tasked to write summary of the videotape.
There was weak
presentation of study 1. Disproportionate gender and ethnicity were used,
whereby 130 were females and 21 were males, and majority were whites. With the
evidence gathered by the researchers, the theory focuses on note-taking skills
with transcription fluency being the only skill in quality note-taking. Furthermore, a limitation of this correlational design
study is that while it proves that there is a relationship between
transcription fluency and note quality, it cannot determine if it is a sole
Results were clearly presented and defined.
This study shows that longhand transcription fluency increases notetaking
skills, leading to improved test performance for students. Moreover, the
researchers stated their insights in improving the methodology along with a more
in-depth research into these areas to further understand one’s aptitude and
Perfect: an investigation of how students view taking notes in lectures
The aim of the study is to examine how
students’ conceptualizations on notetaking can contribute to the understanding
of taking notes in lectures (Badger, White, Sutherland, Haggis, 2001).
18 students participated in the study. Six
direct from UK schools first year undergraduates, six access students, and six
first year international students. Semi-structured interviews were conducted to
analyze note-taking. The method used was qualitative research which focused on
a specific sample size, however based on the size of sample of only 18
students, the research was found to be constrained and lack generalizability. Having
a larger sample population while collecting more representative data would help
improve the study.
The hypothesis is appropriate and valid as
it was based on substantial results from previous reputable studies. Though with
the small sample size, the findings the researchers found were uncertain due to
limited generalizability of the population. Additionally, the sample size only
had first year students, therefore the rest of the representative population
were overlooked. A larger and more diverse participant sample population that includes
variables such as age, ethnicity and academic years could further improve the
study. Technical terminology and alternative sides of the arguments were not
presented. Thus, the reliability of the finding was doubted by the researchers.
Logical results are supported by substantial
findings and evidence despite its limitations. Conclusions were properly
explained and presented. However, out of the 4 conclusions, 3 were
inconclusive. This led to the study being unable to contribute to the aim to
improve student notetaking skills due to the lack of evidence that could
further improve notetaking skills.
to Wei, Wang & Fass, multi-tasking is a form of distraction for quality
note-taking as information can be lost due to lack of focus. It is also concluded
that longhand notetaking is more productive as compared to laptop notetaking in
academic performances (Mueller & Oppenheimer, 2014). Transcription fluency
is the key predictor of good quality notetaking (Peveryly et al.,2007). All
four articles coincide with each other by showing the best way to improve the
student’s skill in notetaking. Both transcription fluency and longhand
notetaking must reach an acceptable level of fluency in order to improve the
quality of notetaking (Peverly et al., 2007; Mueller & Oppenheimer, 2014).
With these findings and insight on
limitations, better research can be done to improve longhand notetaking and
transcription fluency. Such factors could also include avoiding distractions
and selective attention span while applying full concentration during lectures.
With more future research done on notetaking, students will be able to further fine
tune their notetaking skills and quality, thus be more productive in their
learning and ultimately result in better test and academic performances.