IDT 873: Note-taking Generative Strategy

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Generative Strategy Abstract Running head: GENERATIVE STRATEGY ABSTRACT 1 Note Taking as a Generative Strategy Abstract Jennifer Maddrell Old Dominion University IDT 873 Advanced Instructional Design Techniques Dr. Morrison September 2, 2008 Generative Strategy Abstract Note Taking as a Generative Strategy 2 Overview Citing a large and conflicting body of prior research, Peper and Mayer (1986) suggest that three main hypotheses are forwarded by prior research on the effect of note taking on a learner’s cognitive processing, including 1) the attention hypothesis (note takers pay closer attention to the to-be-learned material), 2) the distraction hypothesis (note takers concentrate on the act of writing instead of listening), and 3) the generative hypothesis (note taking enables learners to actively relate material to existing knowledge). Peper and Mayer suggest that evaluations of both attention and distraction hypothesis have tended to focus on how much is recalled. In contrast, by focusing on the generative hypothesis within their reported experiments, the goal is to evaluate the difference in what is learned between note takers and non-note takers. Research Focus. Perry and Mayer (1986) focus on three generative hypothesis predictions. The first prediction is that note takers will perform better on far-transfer test measures (problemsolving) and worse on near-transfer test measures (verbatim recognition and fact recall). This is based on the assumption that note taking offers an opportunity for integration with existing knowledge, but the process of reorganizing the new information interferes with near-transfer verbatim recall of specific facts. Secondly, these results will be stronger for those unfamiliar with the material given the processing required to integrate and organize new information. Finally, the results associated with the note taking generative activity will be similar to those for other types of generative activities. Methodology. Two separate experiments were conducted to test these predictions. The first experiment involved a group of high school students while the second included college students at the University of California at Santa Barbara. To test the first hypothesis, Experiment 1 included only subjects unfamiliar with the to-be-learned topic. The students were divided equally between either a “notes” and “no-notes” group. The same video lecture was shown to each group. Afterward, the notes were collected from the “notes” group and the same posttest was administered to both groups. Recognition questions asking the students to identify sentences that occurred verbatim in the lecture were followed by fact retention and problem solving questions. To assess the second and third hypothesis, Experiment 2 included some subjects who were familiar with the topic and added a question-answering treatment group. The same materials and posttests were used for both experiments. Conclusions. In contrast to the attention hypothesis, the superior results of the “no-note” group to verbatim recognition measures does not support the prediction that note taking results in better total recall. Further, in contrast to the distraction hypothesis, the “notes” group performed better than the “no-note” group in some measures. However, significant differences existed between the measures of what was learned (far-transfer versus near-transfer measures) supporting the generative hypothesis. Note takers excelled on the far-transfer (problem solving) test measures. In contrast, “no-note” takers were more successful in near transfer verbatim and fact recall of information. Supporting the second prediction, the results in Experiment 2 were strong for learners unfamiliar with the topic, but not for familiar learners. Further, in support of Generative Strategy Abstract 3 the third prediction, the other tested generative activity (within the questioning-answering treatment) had similar results as note taking. Perry and Mayer (1986) viewed these results as support for generative theory. They concluded that the process of note taking (especially for those unfamiliar with the material) encourages the note takers to assimilate new information with past experience and make interconnections among pieces of information. Heuristics Based on the results of these experiments, learners should be offered the opportunity to take notes as a means of supporting the long term encoding of new information. This research suggests that the note taking process offers learners the opportunity for integration and organization of the new information with existing knowledge. However, this research also suggests that these results are more likely when the to-be-learned information is unfamiliar to the learner. Further, the process of re-organization and integration with prior knowledge involved in note taking may interfere with verbatim encoding of information and facts. Critique of Article A key strength of this research is the evaluation of note taking across three separate hypotheses, including attention, distraction, and generative theories. Further, the research highlights the advantages, as well as potential limitations, of note taking on encoding. However, it is important to note that the test measures were based on cued recall versus free recall. A possible source of future research would be to replicate the experiments with free recall test measures. In addition, the research analysis did not provide a qualitative analysis of the notes taken by students. An analysis of the qualitative features of the notes, such as the use of diagrams, would have helped to augment the findings. Also, as noted by the authors, this research provides an incomplete analysis of the relationship between note content and problemsolving performance. Generative Strategy Abstract References 4 Peper, R. J., & Mayer, R. E. (1986). Generative Effects of Note-Taking during Science Lectures. Journal of Educational Psychology, 78(1), 34.