October 21, 2020
Volume 4, Number 5
Mid-Lecture Pause to Share and Compare Notes
When students are surveyed about note-taking, they frequently report that they wished they took better notes (Morehead, Dunlosky, Rawson, Blasiman, & Hollis, 2019). Students recognize the value of taking good notes, but few report having ever been taught how to take effective notes. Moreover, students who did receive formal instruction on how to take notes often got this instruction in middle school or high school, where the advice might not apply well to the needs of college students.

What is good note taking?
Good note-taking is a learning strategy that engages students with effortful processing of lecture content rather than passive listening. An effective note-taker evaluates, prioritizes, and organizes lecture content. Effective notes distinguish important ideas from less-important details, organize content, and articulate how ideas relate to each other.

Taking good notes is a complex cognitive skill. Although the mere act of writing things down can improve memory, skilled note-takers also listen actively, determine which content is important enough to record, and organize the new content in a meaningful, coherent way (Reed, Rimel, & Hallett, 2016). Unskilled note-takers take less complete notes. They may fail to record as much as half of the important information. Their notes are poorly organized or they may fail to reflect how main ideas relate to supporting details.

Paper versus laptop? Does the medium make a difference?
Students who use a laptop to take notes might create distractions (for other students as well as themselves) if they also use the laptop for off-task activities. However, providing students with multiple options for taking notes increases the accessibility of the classroom. Mueller & Oppenheimer (2014) suggest that taking notes on paper minimizes distraction. They argue that the slow process of writing forces a student to record notes selectively and engage more deeply with lecture content. In contrast, they suggest that skilled typists taking notes on a laptop might passively transcribe lecture content verbatim without thinking deeply (or thinking at all) about the meaning of the material presented. However, taking notes on a laptop does not prevent students from engaging deeply in lecture content (Morehead, Dunlosky, & Rawson, 2019). At present, the decision to use paper or a laptop to take notes is best determined by characteristics of the student (typing skill, quality and speed of handwriting) and characteristics of the content (e.g., should notes include drawings, graphs, diagrams, or complex equations).

Student misconceptions about class notes
Although students often report that they take notes in their face-to-face classes, more than half say that they do not take notes during online lectures (Morehead, Dunlosky, Rawson, Blaisman, & Hollis, 2019). Students may undervalue note-taking if they believe the purpose of notes is only to transcribe lecture content. Thus, students in a face-to-face class might not take notes if their notes would duplicate PowerPoint slides or other materials posted online. Similarly, students in online classes might believe that they do not need to take notes if they can always view the lecture again (the content is always available). However, Morehead et al. argue that reviewing online lectures is analogous to rereading the textbook, which is well-established as an ineffective study strategy (Dunlosky, et al., 2013).

Mid-Lecture Pause to Share and Compare Notes
Instructors can help students learn to take better notes if they introduce a note sharing activity midway through their lectures. Like other skills, note-taking improves when students have multiple opportunities to practice and receive feedback. Schedule a “share and compare” activity during several lectures throughout the term (Rice, 2018; Ruhl, Hughes, & Schloss, 1987). With repetition, students will learn about general principles of effective note-taking and not just correct their notes for a particular lecture.

Tell students at the start of class that you will take a short break in the middle of class for sharing class notes with a neighbor. Explain the rules for the activity the first time you use this activity in class.

  • Individual reflection on class notes. Take 2-3 minutes to review your notes. Fill in blanks or add ideas you did not have time to write down earlier.
  • Work in small groups (2-3 students). Turn to a neighbor and compare notes. Ask questions and clarify areas where notes differ. Identify gaps such as key ideas or supporting details you did not record but a classmate did. Correct errors or misunderstandings. Clarify which ideas are most important. Organize a coherent argument: explain how the main ideas are supported by evidence. NOTE: Some instructors walk around the room and listen in on the student conversations to identify common areas that need clarification.
  • Instructor clarification. At the end of three minutes, the class can ask questions to clarify their notes before resuming the lecture. If a frequent area of confusion emerges, use this time to discuss and clarify.


by Claudia J. Stanny, Ph.D., Director Center for University Teaching, Learing, and Assessment at the University of West Florida
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Events on Campus
Here are opportunities for our MSU Educators and our Eagle students:

MSU Event :
  • Eight Strategies for Leading the Pandemic Population - Friday, October 23, 2020 10am - 11am. Webinar session led by Dr. Tim Elmore outlining the needs of today's student population - Generation Z. This presentation furnishes eight strategies that can help Gen Z students to find their best self on the other side of COVID-19.

"This presentation applies to all of us and can assist us in better serving students, as the needs of our students continue to change in light of current events. Ultimately, the better prepared we are, the better we can assist our students."
Dr. Janet Ratliff/Associate Professor - Management & Entrepreneurship

For additional information on the presentation contact Janet Ratliff - j.ratliff@moreheadstate.edu

Register here.

MSU Trainings:
  • Choosing the Right High Impact Experience for Your Level Up! Course - Considering leveling up your course? Attend this session to get an overview of the four high impact experiences: education abroad, service learning, undergraduate research and internships. Hear examples of how they’ve been incorporated into the curriculum and learn more about which might work best for you.
  • Wednesday, October 21 at 10am
  • Wednesday, October 21 at 3pm

Register here.

  • Teaching Students to Use the STAR Method in Your Level Up! Course - Regardless of the high impact experience that you choose, students need to get to the next level by learning to talk about the experience and the career skills developed in your course. This session will provide an overview of the STAR Method (Situation, Task, Action and Result) and its use in job and graduate school interviews as well as strategies for structuring reflections to ensure students get the most out of it.
  • Tuesday, October 27 at 11 am
  • Wednesday, October 28 at 10am
  • Wednesday, October 28 at 3pm

Register here

In-The-Know
Project-Based Learning (PBL) as a Vehicle for High-Impact Practices
October 27, 2020 @ 2 PM

Reinventing Institutions
Project-based learning benefits students—and can also be a point of distinction for a college or university. What does it take for an institution to adopt and sustain a high-impact pedagogy like project-based learning?
By the end of this webinar, you will have insights into approaches, strategies, and practices that could transform your own institution into one characterized by a culture of project-based learning.

For more information on the webinar and to register click here

If you plan on attending the webinar, let me know so we can build a plan.
IUPUI Assessment Institute
October 25 - 28, 2020

Assessment Institute
The Assessment Institute, hosted by IUPUI and usually held in Indianapolis, Indiana, is the nation’s oldest and largest higher education event of its type, offering more than 200 educational sessions.

The Assessment Institute is designed to provide opportunities for (1) individuals and campus teams new to outcomes assessment to acquire fundamental knowledge about the field, (2) individuals who have worked as leaders in outcomes assessment to share and extend their knowledge and skills, and (3) those interested in outcomes assessment at any level to establish networks that serve as sources of support and expertise beyond the dates of the Institute.

For more information on the institute and to register click here

If you have any additional questions contact Dr. Shannon Harr @ s.harr@moreheadstate.edu
Virtual Conference on Transforming STEM Higher Education
November 5 - 7, 2020

This Changes Everything
AAC&U and its Project Kaleidoscope urgently invite you to join us virtually for a STEM Conference that will grapple with the undeniable truths, paradoxes, and peculiarities of what is at the heart of our nation’s STEM higher education reform enterprise—us.

For more information on the conference and to register click here

If you plan on attending the conference, let me know so we can build a plan.
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