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Revising lecture notes: how revision, pauses, and partners affect note taking and achievement

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Abstract

Note taking has been categorized as a two-stage process: the recording of notes and the review of notes. We contend that note taking might best involve a three-stage process where the missing stage is revision. This study investigated the benefits of revising lecture notes and addressed two questions: First, is revision more effective than non-revision? Second, what revision method is best? Experiment 1 addressed the first question by comparing the performance of participants who revise or recopy lecture notes. Experiment 2 addressed the second question by investigating whether revision was best done (a) during pauses throughout the lecture or one equally-timed pause after the lecture, and (b) with a partner or alone. Dependent measures were original and additional notes and fact and relationship test scores. Results upheld three effects: (a) a modest revision effect—revisers recorded more additional notes and achieved somewhat higher scores on relationship items than re-copiers, (b) a pause effect—those revising during pauses outperformed those revising after the lecture on the notes and achievement measures, and (c) a modest partner effect—those revising with partners recorded more original notes than those revising alone. Furthermore, the combination of pauses and partners has merit and holds promise as a means for revision. Overall, findings suggested that revision is a new student-centered means to boost lecture note taking and achievement.

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Notes

  1. The assumption of normality was checked for each dependent variable. Most had a normal distribution. Only one variable, additional notes, had a non-normal distribution. Therefore, both t test and Mann–Whitney U test were employed. The result of the Mann–Whitney U test mirrored the t-test result, so only t-test results were reported in line with other analyses.

  2. The sample size for notes analyses was less than that for achievement because two sets of notes were misplaced and could not be scored.

  3. The assumption of normality was checked for each dependent variable. Most had a normal distribution, except additional notes. Therefore, in addition to the overall MANOVA test, a log transformation was performed on the additional-notes measure and a one-way ANOVA followed. The significant interaction effect between pause and partner was confirmed using the log transformation, just as in MANOVA. Therefore, only MANOVA results were reported.

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Luo, L., Kiewra, K.A. & Samuelson, L. Revising lecture notes: how revision, pauses, and partners affect note taking and achievement. Instr Sci 44, 45–67 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11251-016-9370-4

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