```I would like to share the anecdote about note-taking that led to my own "aha!" moment.

-x-x-x-x-
One semester, a student from one of my algebra or pre-calculus classes came to see me for help during office hours. He was trying to solve a quadratic equation; I asked him if he remembered the formula.

"Is that the one with the plus-or-minus-square-root-of-something?" he asked.

I affirmed that it was, and suggested that he find the exact formula in his notes since he couldn't remember it. He began flipping back and forth through his notebook in no discernible pattern. Trying to help him out, I looked over his shoulder.

"Oh, okay, those are the notes from last Thursday, and we did the quadratic formula on Tuesday, so it should be right before that!" I said.

He flipped back a few pages, didn't find it, then continued flipping back and forth in a seemingly-random pattern.

Again I said, "They should be right before those other notes, right?"

He replied: "Well, I don't really write my notes in order. I just open the notebook to a blank page and start there."
-x-x-x-x-

(I can hear your knowing groan now...)

I spent a long time trying to understand this behavior, because it made no sense to me. It was actually some of my tutors who helped me to my epiphany. Naturally, I had assumed that students take notes in order to have some written record or memory aid of what occurred in class. But this is often not the case. Students take notes because, at least in high school, they got in trouble if they weren't taking notes!

For many students, in other words, note-taking has become an end in itself, and not a means to some other end.

This is borne out by my very non-scientific surveys since. Whenever I work with an individual or group of students on study skills, I always ask: what do you do with your notes after class? Many students say that they do nothing at all; most of the rest say that they re-read the notes sometime later (usually right before the test). Very few students that I've encountered engage in any "high-yield" study activities with their notes.

Jered Wasburn-Moses
Math Center Coordinator
Success Skills Coordinator
Learning Assistance Programs
Northern Kentucky University
http://lap.nku.edu
University Center 170F
(859) 572-5779

-----Original Message-----
Sent: Wednesday, April 02, 2014 10:41 AM
Subject: Re: Chron of Higher Education

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-----
Sent: Tuesday, April 01, 2014 1:24 PM
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

> 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
> (609)258-6921
> http://www.princeton.edu/mcgraw/us/
>
> Associate Director
> McGraw Center for Teaching and Learning 328C Frist Campus Center
> Princeton University Princeton, NJ 08544
>
> Individual Appointment Times:
> By request
>
>
>
>
>
>
> On Apr 1, 2014, at 9:49 AM, Norman Stahl wrote:
>
>  March 28, 2014 by Danya Perez-Hernandez
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>> 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
>>
>>
>> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
>> To access the LRNASST-L archives or User Guide, or to change your
>> subscription options (including subscribe/unsubscribe), point your
>> web browser to http://www.lists.ufl.edu/archives/lrnasst-l.html
>>
>>
>
>
> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
> To access the LRNASST-L archives or User Guide, or to change your
> subscription options (including subscribe/unsubscribe), point your web
> browser to http://www.lists.ufl.edu/archives/lrnasst-l.html
>
>

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
To access the LRNASST-L archives or User Guide, or to change your
http://www.lists.ufl.edu/archives/lrnasst-l.html