Laptop versus longhand note taking: effects on lecture notes and achievement

Abstract

There has been a shift in college classrooms from students recording lecture notes using a longhand pencil-paper medium to using laptops. The present study investigated whether note-taking medium (laptop, longhand) influenced note taking and achievement when notes were recorded but not reviewed (note taking’s process function) and when notes were recorded and reviewed (note taking’s product function). One unique aspect of the study was determining how laptop and longhand note taking influence the recording of lecture images in notes and image-related achievement. Note-taking results showed that laptop note takers recorded more notes (idea units and words) and more verbatim lecture strings than did longhand note takers who, in turn, recorded more visual notes (signals and images) than did laptop note takers. Achievement results showed that when taking laptop notes, the process function of note taking was more beneficial than the product function of note taking (i.e., better image-related learning and similar text-related learning). When taking longhand notes, the product function of note taking was more beneficial than the process function of note taking (i.e., better text-related learning and similar image-related learning). Achievement findings suggest that the optimal note-taking medium depends on the nature of the lecture and whether notes are reviewed.

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Fig. 1
Fig. 2

Notes

  1. 1.

    Kiewra et al. (1991) argued that the product function of note taking is best represented by those who only review notes (such as those provided by the instructor or borrowed from a fellow student) but do not also record notes. They argued that both recording and reviewing notes is representative of the combined process and product functions of note taking rather than the product function alone.

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Acknowledgment

We thank Dr. Pam Mueller and Dr. Daniel Oppenheimer for supplying the program for the verbatim strings analyses, and we thank Daniel Parr for scoring notes.

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Correspondence to Kenneth A. Kiewra.

Appendix: Examples of the narrated PowerPoint lecture slides

Appendix: Examples of the narrated PowerPoint lecture slides

See Figs. 3 and 4.

Fig. 3
figure3

Sample lecture slide with verbal information only

Fig. 4
figure4

Sample lecture slide with verbal information and image

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Luo, L., Kiewra, K.A., Flanigan, A.E. et al. Laptop versus longhand note taking: effects on lecture notes and achievement. Instr Sci 46, 947–971 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11251-018-9458-0

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Keywords

  • Note taking
  • Lecture learning
  • Laptop