Many studies have indicated that if college and high school students learn to properly take notes during their lecture, their academic performance will be far better. They’ll be more successful, as Stahl, King, and Henk have demonstrated in 1991. Spires and Stone also found in a 1989 study that students will have to ‘increasingly depend on their skill to properly take notes in the classroom if they want to become successful’
In 1994, Ornstein published his findings that indicate that students will benefit if all teachers deliberately train their students in good note-taking techniques. Lower-achieving students will even benefit more. A Bakunas & Holley essay from 2001 is even suggesting that instructors should teach their students note-taking skills just like they’re taught reading, writing, or keyboarding skills.
Note-taking for people with disabilities
How crucial note-taking is for students with a disability should really not be underestimated. As shown in numerous research studies, students with disabilities are often not very effective note-takers as they lack the ability to write fast enough. They often have problems writing down all the spoken information because it comes just too fast.
Even when they are able to take notes, they will frequently later be unable to read or understand them because what they took down is illegible. It happens all too often that students with disabilities avoid note-taking at all, or that they rely on notes taken by others or on their teachers for help.
Learn to make note-taking abbreviations
In the college classroom, lecture learning is absolutely prominent. Armbruster reported in 2000 that college students generally are spending some 80 percent of their class time with just listening to all sorts of lectures. Well, if giving lectures is seen as a professor’s sacred cow, then note-taking at lectures is a student’s ‘pet calf’, as remarked by Titsworth & Kiewra in 2001.
The biggest problem here is that a student usually records incomplete, incorrect, or irrelevant notes. It is estimated that generally some 20 to 40 percent of a lecture’s key ideas are wasted this way (O’Donnell and Dansereau, 1993). Additionally, of what is not noted down at a lecture, some 80 percent will be completely forgotten after just 2 weeks.
This demonstrates the vital importance of teaching proper note-taking skills as indicated by Boon in 1989. Ladas also found in 1980 that if there exists a significant gap between a student’s writing speed capacity and the lecture’s delivery speed, there will be a highly negative impact on how much information the student will record and remember. Also the attention level, comprehension of the study material, and the concentration span will be dramatically affected.
In 1994, Fisher and Harris demonstrated that when students are trained to ‘encode information’ (using abbreviations), they will perform note-taking far more efficiently. In 1994, Wilbett J. McKeachie even came to the conclusion that the ability to abbreviate spoken information results in an increased number of words in students’ working memory and leads to considerable improvement of subject retention. Boyle also concluded in 2001 that using abbreviations will decrease eyes and hands engagement, and allow for more effective recording of spoken information.
The general conclusion is that using abbreviations increases the ability to record spoken information, enhances the attention, and prolongs the concentration span. It additionally provides students with more time to focus on and comprehend class study material. Using abbreviations allows for faster processing of the spoken words into written form, it enhances information retention, and may lead to an overall improvement of their note-taking speed and organization.
Additionally, a higher and more efficient writing speed will allow for more time for handwriting optimization, which will result in better legibility and an improved style to make a student’s notes legible.