Note-taking is almost as old as education itself. As soon as people discovered ways to record information that were less expensive than the laborious process of making paper or parchment (hello, wax tablets and chunks of slate and chalk!), note-taking became an integral part of the process of learning.
This is the subject of a recent podcast from the Cult of Pedagogy. It’s a fascinating dive into what can happen when note-taking is applied in a planned, intentional manner. And it’s not the sort of activity the teacher can toss into students’ laps and walk away from — teachers need to actively manage the note-taking experience to ensure that students arrive at key learnings. When this happens, learning increases.
Three intriguing pieces of research:
- Combining drawings with words increases retention. This might be because finding a graphic representation for something requires students to access higher order thinking skills such as analysis and evaluation to decide on how to represent what they’ve seen or heard. In the podcast show notes is a video showing how this type of note-taking works.
- Intentional pauses and planned revision of notes during the note-taking experience increases learning. This is why the teacher can’t just leave students: the teacher needs to curate the experience so students have opportunities to regroup before they go on to more content.
- There is preliminary evidence that hand writing notes promotes more retention that electronically recording notes. This is by no means confirmed so it would be wise to reserve judgement until more research is done, but it’s interesting. The “why” of this is even more intriguing: what about writing out notes by hand promotes retention? That remains for research to uncover.
Listen to the Cult of Pedagogy podcast on Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts.