Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.


Psychological and Brain Sciences

Degree Program

Experimental Psychology, PhD

Committee Chair

DeCaro, Marci S.

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Cashon, Cara H.

Committee Member

Cashon, Cara H.

Committee Member

Lyle, Keith B.

Committee Member

Pani, John R.

Committee Member

Snyder, Kate E.

Author's Keywords

Desirable Difficulty; Lecture Method; Encoding Variability; Metacognition; Deep Processing; Generation Effect (Learning)


It is common for students to take notes during lectures, but the accuracy and completeness of these notes is highly questionable. Therefore, instructors must make an important decision – should they provide their students with lecture notes? If so, how complete should the notes be and in what format? The present experiments examined how note format and degree of support impacted the encoding benefit of note-taking. In Experiment 1, undergraduate students listened to brief audio-recorded science lectures (Human blood, N = 42; Human ear, N = 36) and completed skeletal outlines (requiring students to conceptually organize the information using the structure indicated by the notes) or cloze notes (requiring students to record key words that were deleted from the notes). In Experiment 2, students (N = 120) completed outlines or cloze notes with varying degrees of support, thus providing students with more or less complete notes. Both experiments found that, compared to other guided notes, completing skeletal outlines (i.e., outlines with minimal support) led to the highest cognitive load and the least complete notes, but also the most accurate free recall and inference responses. Consistent with the material appropriate processing framework, the mnemonic benefits derived from completing guided notes were constrained to notes that induce a type of semantic processing which complements that afforded by the lecture.