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Many instructors at our college have told me that students simply don't take notes, and they aren't sure how to "get" them to take notes or see the value of them or use them, etc. I think this speaks to a couple of points. 

1. Notes, as a topic in general, seem to be viewed as either right or wrong both in the content and the structure. In my view, electronic notes are tough for lectures, especially for struggling students, mostly because they don't (yet) easily allow for the on-the-fly structuring needed to match a speaker's thought path. If struggling students are afraid of doing something wrong, chances are they won't do it at all. We could use that ounce of preparation, as could our students, to scaffold for that fear. 

2. Students do not seem to want to take the risk of ruling out a piece of information as unimportant, and then need to know it for a test or job. So, if they were to take notes, they'd write down EVERYTHING. Or, they don't take notes at all. What's more, writing is what we say + how we say it. Students can only last so long if they're struggling with both. We could do a better job of helping students sift information and teaching them how organize it. 

3. Many of our instructors use PowerPoint for their lectures, and then encourage students to follow along during lectures. This is a great effort, but what a student might write down for notes is often already on the slide. We could explore how to use technology as a tool. 

4. The issue of teaching teachers how to teach appears again! I see instructors too often simply ignore this and blame the student, or take a sort of sink-or-swim attitude; or, explicitly tell the students what to write down for notes. There are plenty of scaffolding strategies available to TEACH - not tell - students how to take notes without breaking from the normal curriculum. We could make that a part of a healthy professional development program. 

Whether electronic or longhand, the issues surrounding note-taking seem to be symptoms of a larger issue. That final quote in the original post - "...if the notes are taken indiscriminately or by mindlessly transcribing content...the benefit disappears" - hints at a starting point. 

Teresa Milligan
Instructor, Elftmann Student Success Center
Dunwoody College of Technology
818 Dunwoody Blvd.
Minneapolis, MN 55403
Direct:  612.381.3364
dunwoody.edu/elftmann

Let us not think of education only in terms of its costs, but rather in terms of the infinite potential of the human mind that can be realized through education.
-John F. Kennedy




-----Original Message-----
From: Open Forum for Learning Assistance Professionals [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Larina Warnock
Sent: Tuesday, April 01, 2014 1:24 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Chron of Higher Education

I find that many of my developmental students, regardless of whether they are using a laptop or taking longhand notes, take too many notes and take them on the wrong things (e.g. they write down the examples instead of the concepts). When they learn strategies to decide what they should take notes on and stop trying to write down everything the teacher says, grades begin to improve. Even so, students who take notes on a laptop also sometimes get distracted by the red and green lines of MSWord and try to correct their spelling and grammar as they type. This practice distracts them from actually absorbing the content. I think when we write notes longhand, we don't worry so much about format and we have no visible little lines telling us that we did something wrong. I wonder if turning off grammar and spell check while taking notes would alter the findings at all.

Larina Warnock
Developmental Studies Instructor
WH214
541-917-2311

We read to know we are not alone. -C.S. Lewis


On Tue, Apr 1, 2014 at 7:02 AM, Nic Voge <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> Like all experimental designs, the application to practice is 
> under-conceptualized, but this is an intriguing finding. It assumes 
> that elaborated, organized encoding happens best at the time of 
> exposure, rather than, say, after class--which is dubious--and makes 
> no account of the "life" of the notes after 30 minutes.
>
> Nonetheless, it speaks powerfully to docile, mindless "engagement" in 
> class.
>
> Best,
> Nic
> __________________________________
> Dominic (Nic) J. Voge
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> (609)258-6921
> http://www.princeton.edu/mcgraw/us/
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> On Apr 1, 2014, at 9:49 AM, Norman Stahl wrote:
>
>  March 28, 2014 by Danya Perez-Hernandez
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>> Comments (30)
>>
>>
>> Taking Notes by Hand Benefits Recall, Researchers Find
>>
>> Distractions posed by laptops in the classroom have been a common 
>> concern, but new research suggests that even if laptops are used 
>> strictly to take notes, typing notes hinders students' academic 
>> performance compared with writing notes on paper with a pen or pencil.
>> Daniel M. Oppenheimer, an associate professor of psychology at the 
>> University of California at Los Angeles, and Pam Mueller, a graduate 
>> student at Princeton University, studied the effects of students'
>> note-taking preferences. Their findings will be published in a paper 
>> in Psychological Science called "The Pen Is Mightier Than the Keyboard:
>> Advantages of Longhand Over Laptop Note-Taking."
>> The researchers' goal was to figure out whether typing notes--which 
>> is becoming increasingly popular--has any direct effect on a 
>> students' ability to understand a lecture.
>> In a series of studies, the researchers provided students with 
>> laptops or with pen and paper to take notes. (The computers were 
>> disconnected from the
>> Internet.) Students were then tested on how well they could recall 
>> facts and apply concepts. During the first test, students were told 
>> to "use their normal classroom note-taking strategy." Some typed, and 
>> others wrote longhand. They were tested 30 minutes later.
>> The researchers aimed to measure the increased opportunity to 
>> "mindlessly" take verbatim notes when using laptops.
>> "Verbatim note-taking, as opposed to more selective strategies, 
>> signals less encoding of content," says the researchers' report. 
>> Although laptop users took almost twice the amount of notes as those 
>> writing longhand, they scored significantly lower in the conceptual 
>> part of the test. Both groups had similar scores on the factual test.
>> In another part of the study, some laptop users were instructed to 
>> avoid taking verbatim notes. Instructors explained that "people who 
>> take class notes on laptops when they expect to be tested on the 
>> material later tend to transcribe what they're hearing without 
>> thinking about it much." But members of that group received lower 
>> scores in both conceptual and factual tests than did their longhand counterparts.
>> "While more notes are beneficial, at least to a point, if the notes 
>> are taken indiscriminately or by mindlessly transcribing content, as 
>> is more likely the case on a laptop, the benefit disappears," says the report.
>>
>>
>> Norman Stahl
>> [log in to unmask]
>>
>>
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