Note-Taking During the Lecture: How to Stimulate That?

Note-taking during the lecture enhances in-depth learning. Both the process (the note-taking itself) and the product (the quality of the notes) are important. The information in this Education Tip will help you to encourage your students to take notes. 

Help Students to Take Good Notes 

High-quality note-taking leads to better learning. Therefore, make sure that students are able to see the lecture's main points instead of literally writing down everything you say. 

Minor adjustments will help you achieve this:  

  • clearly indicate what is important; 
  • use the board for elements the students definitely have to write down; 
  • "I'll give you some time to write this down well;" 

Please refer students to the Note-Taking Guide (in Dutch) on the Ghent University Language Advice website. 

Presentations with Clear Structure 

Fully written-out slides are not necessary. Make sure that students have a clear overview of the structure. For example, choose skeletal slides that only show the lecture's structure. If students have a clear overview of the structure, they can quickly refer back to them at a later stage and remember the details better. Another (less academic) option is to provide detailed slides in which you omit the keywords. 

Encourage Rereading Lecture Notes  

Make sure students reread their notes after class. Rereading the notes afterwards improves performance. For example, give your students an assignment in which they have to review their notes to find the solution. 

Provide Pauses 

By providing regular pauses, you ensure that all students can keep up and take notes. Pauses do not necessarily mean that you have to interrupt the entire lecture. Repeating the key elements, telling an anecdote, or showing an image or figure can also be very helpful. 

Want to Know More? 

  • consult the sources on which this Education Tip is based:
    • Carrier, C.A. (1983) Notetaking Research. Implications for the Classroom. Minneapolis. Journal of Instructional Development, 6 (3), 19-26; 
    • Kiewra, K.A. (1987), Notetaking and Review: The Research and its implications. Utah, Instructional Science, 16, 233-249 ;
    • Titsworth, B.S., Kiewra, K.A. (2004), Spoken organizational lecture cues and student notetaking as facilitators of student learning. Science Direct, 29, 447-461 ;
    • Neef, N.A., McCord, B.E., Ferreri, S.J. (2006), Effects of guided notes versus completed notes during lectures on college students’ quiz performance. Journal of Applied Behaviour Analysis, 39, 123-130; 
    • Larson, R.B. (2009), Enhancing the recall of presented material. Computer & Education, 53, 1278-1284; 
  • please refer to the Note-Taking Guide (in Dutch) on the Ghent Universtiy Language Advice website. 

Last modified July 8, 2020, 12:30 p.m.