Essay on Note-Taking Processes: Evaluating Skills & Technologies for Enhanced Learning Outcomes

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  6
Wordcount:  1596 Words
Date:  2023-06-06


A considerable band of literature has sought to evaluate note-taking processes, and how different approaches lead to various learning outcomes for students. This paper considered four research topics on the subject: the first topic considered students' perceptions of the process; the second evaluated the various skills signifying efficacy of the process; the third sought to determine how modern technologies such as the use of laptops and internets in class, affect the learning outcomes and final topic reviewed different techniques of note-taking, specifically the use of longhand writing versus typing on a laptop, and how they affected learning outcomes. Considering that note-taking has emerged as an effective and most-widely recognized approach to learning perceived for positive learning outcomes, the current paper undertook a critical review of the four topics to determine whether the process is a positive predictor of these results.

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Students' Perceptions of Note-taking

The first analysis involved an article by Badger et al., (2001), which was a report published in Elsevier Science. The authors sought students' perceptions of note-taking to develop an understanding of why students make these notes, techniques used in the process, and what they do afterward. The general hypothesis was that the understanding of note-taking as an aspect of academic literacy would be enhanced if students' conceptualisation of the task was considered. The proposed hypothesis, however, was rather superficial as it did not explain how the understanding of students' formulation of the process would be useful in determining their literacy skills.

18 participants, 6 in three categories of first-year traditional undergraduates, access students, and international students were selected for the study. Again, the number did not account for a representative sample owing to the large group of students present in each category that were left out. The respondents were interviewed to get their views on note-taking, which was audio-taped and later transcribed. Results indicated that students mainly viewed the process as an effective way to record material useful in their assignments and examinations

The results, however, were inconclusive and in one instance the authors could not validate whether students' insights could benefit or hamper the learning process leaving an opening for future investigations. Again, the researchers were unable to justify the variations between the different research respondents citing the lack of clear evidence to explain the differences. They also made an absurd assumption that international students had taken other courses that guided their responses on their perceptions of note-taking.

Various Skills Signifying Quality Note-taking

The second review was based on an article by Peverly et al. (2007) cohort study, published in the American Psychological Association Journal. The researchers sought to investigate three cognitive-based learning processes namely verbal working memory (VWM), transcription fluency and the skill to identify major ideas within a lecture, which were often assumed to signify the quality of notes taken. The researchers provided a counter-theory, mainly expressed in past literature, that VWM and notes quality was a predictor of good test performance.

The participants to the study involved 85 undergraduate students of a large university in the northeastern side of the U.S, who were enrolled in an introductory psychology class. It was worth noting that the sample chosen was not representative of the general population of psychology students in other states within the country. The respondents were randomly chosen and taken through various experiments to test their transcription fluency, word spelling and their listening span to measure their levels of verbal working memories.

Results emerged that transcription fluency was the sole predictor of notes quality, which in turn significantly predicted test performance. It also emerged that students ought to showcase cognitive resources i.e. strategies, knowledge and executive monitoring to enable them to engage, process, and interpret VWM information, which capacity is necessary to process information effectively. These findings represented every aspect of the proposed hypothesis which, however, was only partially confirmed with other aspects of the research assumption such as VWM and the ability to identify the main idea of a lecture remaining irrelevant.

The conclusions also discounted findings in previous research into the field particularly by Kiewra & Benton, (1988); Kobayashi, (2005), as cited in Peverly, et al., (2007) that VWM, which influenced the quality of notes, were also predictors of good test performance. The limitation of Perverly et al. (2007) cohort study was that they failed to recognize other non-cognitive factors such as external distractions that might affect transcription fluency and ultimate test performance.

Effects of Laptops and Internet on Learning Outcomes

The other article evaluated was a piece by Ravizza et al., (2017) published in the Association of Psychological Science Journal. The researchers investigated how laptop internet use related to classroom learning, with the assumption that these resources greatly hampered the learning processes. The research was timely considering that students, in varying degrees, often used these resources for class-related and non-class related purposes during an active learning session. To counter their hypothesis, the researchers focused on other intrinsic factors such as motivation to succeed in the course, interest in the same, and intelligence levels of individuals students to influence their performance owing to their online behaviours while in class.

The experiment involved 107 participants who were enrolled in an introductory psychology class at Michigan State University. Students brought their personal computers to class and connecting to the internet via a proxy server which was provided. Permission was sourced from the institution and the participants informed that their activities were being monitored. Information was drawn from the proxy server throughout fifteen lectures with each lasting for 1 hour 50 minutes.

Results from the study revealed that the students spent at least 37 minutes in every session to browse the internet for non-academic sites. Social media was the most accessed sites followed by access to e-mails and watching videos. Other activities included chatting, reading news, and playing games. These findings also partially supported the research hypothesis that computers and other technology brought in class during an active session greatly hampered the process. However, levels of intelligence, interest, and drive to succeed remained irrelevant.

The conclusions were backed by evidence in previous studies from which the researchers derived their hypothesis. The conclusions, however, were limited in scope as the researchers only focused on first-year students from a single university. Some of the research aspects tested would rather produce different results as students advanced in higher levels of the course such as the interest levels exhibited toward the course material. In the present study, it was impossible to measure such variations.

Advantages of Longhand over Keyboard Note-taking Strategies

In the final review, this piece considered an article by Mueller and Oppenheimer (2014) published in the Association for Psychological Science Journal. This journal undertook a more extensive review of how computer gadgets affected learning while considering the advantages of longhand writing over typing on a keyboard while taking notes. The authors held the hypothesis that while laptop note-taking was increasingly impairing learning resulting in shallower processing of information.

In three experiments, the researchers enrolled 67, 151, and 109 randomly selected participants from Princeton University. The participants were taken through experiments involving viewing a lecture projected in front of a room, watching the same on a desktop monitor, and attending an actual lecture respectively, and requested to take notes of the same. At the same time, each experiment involved participants being grouped into two sects where one group made notes on a notebook while the other typed on a laptop provided. Participants in the first two experiments were evaluated based on a verbatim transcription, while the third group sat an additional written test to test their conceptualization of the lecture material.

The results showed that students who took notes on laptops wrote more words of the lecture than those who used the traditional longhand option. Besides, students in the third experiment performed poorly than their counterparts who opted for longhand note-taking option. The research hypothesis was confirmed that students who take notes on laptops tend to transcribe lecture verbatim instead of processing such information and paraphrasing in individual words, thus detrimental to learning outcomes (Mueller & Oppenheimer, 2018).

The research conclusions, however, were not supported in other studies with little previous research dedicated to the study topic. Even the authors mentioned that their study was one of its kind reiterating that it boasted of little evidence backing. This fault was the main limitation of the study making the conclusions unscientific in nature.


From the critical review of the three pieces, it emerged that note-taking is a significant part of the learning process. For instance, notes provided important reference to students in various academic tasks. The studies also provided better insights on specific aspects to improve on such as transcription fluency to enhance positive learning outcomes. Precaution, however, needs to be taken as evidence pointed out that some techniques used in note-taking could be detrimental to learning outcomes. Further research is also recommended on understanding students' perceptions about these tasks and the effect of technology in the learning setting to come up with better policies to be used in learning centres.


Bader, R., White, G., Sutherland, P., & Haggis, T. (2001). Note-perfect: an investigation of how students view taking notes in lectures. Berlin: Elsevier Science Limited.

Mueller, P. A., & Oppenheimer, D. M. (2018). Corrigendum: The Pen is Mightier Than the Keyboard: Advantages of Longhand Over Laptop Note Taking. Association for Psychological Science, 25(6), 1159-1168. 10.1177/0956797614524581

Peverly, S. T., Ramaswamy, V., Brown, C., Sumowski, J., Alidoost, M., & Garner, J. (2007). What Predicts Skill in Lecture Note-Taking? Journal of Educational Psychology, 99(1), 167-180. 10.1037/0022-0663.99.1.167

Ravizza, S. M., Uitvlugt, M. G., & Fenn, K. M. (2017). Logged In and Zoned Out: How Laptop Internet Use is Related to Classroom Learning. Association of Psychological Science, 28(2), 171-180. 10.1177/0956797616677314

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Essay on Note-Taking Processes: Evaluating Skills & Technologies for Enhanced Learning Outcomes. (2023, Jun 06). Retrieved from

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