Theses Doctoral

An Examination of Note Review and the Testing Effect on Test Performance

Song, Vivian

Traditionally, classroom testing is utilized and viewed as a way to measure students’ knowledge of material. However, research has shown that test taking also enhances long-term learning and retention of material, a phenomenon known as the testing effect. Across settings, research has found that compared to rereading or repeated reviewing, repeated testing leads to poorer performance on immediate tests, but stronger long-term learning of material on delayed tests. These results have been produced with various materials, such as prose passages, word-pair associates, and educational materials such as textbook chapters. However, the testing effect has not been examined in relation to student-generated materials, such as lecture notes. Lecture notetaking is widely embraced in postsecondary education. Both taking and reviewing notes have significant benefits on students’ academic and test performance. However, it is a complex cognitive task, which often results in students taking poor or incomplete notes and thus, limiting the benefits of notetaking and note review. There are many interventions to support students in taking better notes, but there is limited research on the effectiveness of the types of strategies used to review notes. This dissertation examined the effects of different note reviewing strategies on test performance: repeated review, self-testing, and rewriting.
In two experiments, 69 and 117 undergraduate students watched a recorded lecture while taking notes. Students then studied the notes through the use of repeated review (reread), self-testing (repeated recall), or rewriting before taking either an immediate or delayed final multiple-choice test on the materials. The independent variables included study method (repeated review/reread vs. self-testing/repeated recall vs. rewriting) and time of test (immediate vs. delayed). The delayed variables included total test score, memory item performance, and inference item performance. Due to attrition in participants in Study 1, only study method was analyzed. Results of these studies did not find a testing effect. There was only a significant main effect of study method on the total test and inference items in Study 1, in which the repeated review group performed significantly better on the immediate test than the self-testing and the rewriting groups. There was no significant main effect of study method for Study 2. Instead, there was a significant main effect of time across the three dependent variables. Students performed significantly better on the immediate test than the delayed test. There was no significant study method x time of test interaction.
These studies also examined whether quality and quantity of students’ notes had an effect on test performance. Three covariates were examined: note themes, number of propositions, and number of main ideas. In Study 1, number of propositions and number of main ideas were significantly related to all dependent variables. In Study 2, the results were mixed. Number of propositions and main ideas were significantly related to total test performance and memory items, but not inference items. However, for number of main ideas, there was a trend that approached conventional significance for inference items.
Results also examined the effects of the notes taken during the study trials on test performance. In Study 1, the number of propositions recalled by students in the self-testing group was predictive of performance only on the total test score. The number of main ideas and propositions generated by students in the rewriting group were not significantly related to test performance. Results were similarly mixed in Study 2. Number of propositions and main ideas recalled by students in the self-testing group were not significantly related to test performance. In contrast, number of main ideas included in students’ notes in the rewriting group was related to performance on memory items and the total test items. Future research should continue to explore the testing effect in conjunction with note taking.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
School Psychology
Thesis Advisors
Peverly, Stephen T.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
September 24, 2018