Faculty Development & Learning Assessment

What Research Tells Us About Notetaking and Review of Notes


Research on notetaking indicates that taking notes in class and reviewing those notes (either in class or afterward) has a positive impact on student learning. Various studies confirm that students who take notes score higher on both immediate and delayed tests of recall and synthesis than students who do not take notes.

Pausing. The simplest way to engage students and improve their notes is to build in short pauses (two to three minutes) a few times during the lecture when students can review and rework their notes. Further, giving them the opportunity to briefly summarize their notes (or respond to a review question) with a partner increases retention significantly.

Handouts. Faculty can support student notetaking by distributing handouts for students to use while taking notes. Students take better notes and review material more effectually if faculty provide a “scaffold,” such as an outline, an overview, or other advance organizer for students to use while taking notes.

In summary, notetaking facilitates both recall of factual material and the synthesis and application of new knowledge, particularly when notes are reviewed prior to exams.

Adapted from: DeZure, D., Kaplan, M., & Deerman, M.A. (2001). Research on Student Notetaking: Implications for Faculty and Graduate Student Instructors. CRLT Occasional Paper No. 16. Retrieved May 9, 2009, from CRLT Web site: http://www.crlt.umich.edu/publinks/CRLT_no16.pdf

Tip References

Additional Resources:

Bligh, D. (2000). What’s the use of lectures? San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Johnstone, A. H., & Su, W. Y. (1994). Lectures—a learning experience? Education in Chemistry, 31 (1), 75- 76, 79.

Kiewra, K. A., DuBois, N., Christian, D., McShane, A., Meyerhoffer, M., & Roskelley, D. (1991). Note-taking functions and techniques. Journal of Education Psychology, 83 (2), 240-245.