Theses Doctoral

An Investigation of Note-Taking and Review on Test Performance

Zuckerman, Karlian Lee

Classroom testing has historically been viewed as a method to evaluate knowledge. However, a growing body of literature underscores the idea that testing can be used for more than just assessing students competencies. In fact, the act of taking a test itself has proven to provide meaningful effects on learning and long-term retention. The idea that repeated testing enhances long-term retention has been dubbed the testing effect. In a variety of settings, research has established that compared to rereading or reviewing, practicing retrieval through repeated testing leads to poorer performance on immediate tests but superior long-term memory on delayed tests. To date, the testing effect has not been examined in conjunction with student-generated materials, such as lecture note taking. Lecture note taking is ubiquitous in postsecondary education, and students view it as an important classroom activity. Note taking, however, is a very complicated and multi-faceted process, which often leads students to take poor or incomplete notes. Professors have recognized this difficulty and begun providing their own, more completed, elaborated, and well organized notes to students in an effort to compensate for their incomplete notes. This dissertation examined whether repeated recall is superior to repeated review for the retention of information when students study their own notes vs. the instructor’s notes.
A sample of 117 undergraduate students watched a recorded lecture while half of them took notes, and the other half received the instructor’s notes. Students then studied the notes through repeated review or repeated recall before taking either an immediate or final test on the materials. The independent variables included note-taking (own notes vs. instructor’s notes), review (repeated rereading/reviewing vs. repeated recall/testing), and time of test (immediate vs. delayed). The dependent variables included total test score, performance on memory items, and performance on inference items.
Results of this study did not find a testing effect. Rather, the outcome found a significant main effect for time of test across dependent variables (memory items, inference items, total test score), indicating that students performed better on the immediate test than the delayed test. There was a significant study method x time of test interaction, demonstrating that students’ in the review condition performed better on the immediate than the delayed test but only on memory items. No significant interaction was found for the recall condition. There was also a trend for students to perform better on memory items when they repeatedly reviewed rather than recalled the instructor’s provided notes, however the method x notes interaction did not reach conventional levels of significance. Differences between the results of this study and those from other testing effect research are hypothesized to be due to the repetitive and lengthy of nature of this experiment and the lack of student interest and motivation. Future research should continue to explore the testing effect in conjunction with note taking.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Thesis Advisors
Peverly, Stephen T.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
February 15, 2017