Academic Commons

Theses Doctoral

The Cognitive and Demographic Variables that Underlie Notetaking and Review in Mathematics: Does Quality of Notes Predict Test Performance in Mathematics?

Belanfante, Elizabeth Andrea

Taking and reviewing lecture notes is an effective and prevalent method of studying employed by students at the post-secondary level (Armbruster, 2000; Armbruster, 2009; Dunkel and Davy, 1989; Peverly et al., 2009). However, few studies have examined the cognitive variables that underlie this skill. In addition, these studies have focused on more verbally based domains, such as history and psychology. The current study examined the practical utility of notes in actual class settings. It is the first study that has attempted to examine the outcomes and cognitive skills associated with note-taking and review in any area of mathematics. It also set out to establish the importance of quality of notes and quality of review sheets to test performance in graduate level probability and statistics courses. Finally, this dissertation sought to explore the extent to which variables besides notes also contribute to test performance in this domain. Participants included 74 graduate students enrolled in introductory probability and statistics courses at a private graduate teacher education college in a large city in the Northeast United States. Participants took notes during class and provided the researcher with a copy of their notes for several lectures. Participants were also required to write down additional information on the back of two formula sheets that were used as an aid on the midterm exam. The independent variables included handwriting speed, gender, spatial visualization ability, background knowledge, verbal ability, and working memory. The dependent variables were quality of lecture notes, quality of supplemental review sheets, and midterm performance. All measures were group administered. Results revealed that gender was the only predictor of quality of lecture notes. Quality of lecture notes was the only significant predictor of quality of supplemental review sheets. Neither quality of lecture notes nor quality of supplemental review sheets predicted overall test performance. Instead, background knowledge and instructor significantly predicted overall test performance. Handwriting speed was a marginally significant predictor of overall test performance. Future research aimed at replicating these findings and expanding the results to include other mathematical domains and educational levels is recommended.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
School Psychology
Thesis Advisors
Peverly, Stephen T.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
July 16, 2013