Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation
Educational Leadership, Evaluation and Organizational Development
Counseling and Personnel Services, PhD
Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)
note-taking; notetaking; note taking; handwriting; typewriting; meta-analysis
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This study is a systematic review and meta-analysis of studies examining the effect of note-taking modality during lecture, that is, taking notes by hand using pen and paper vs. taking notes using a keyboard and computer, on learning among secondary and postsecondary students. I begin with a review of the literature and theoretical introduction to the theories and terms used. From a theoretical standpoint, there are strong reasons to believe that taking notes by hand might offer recall benefits relative to taking notes using a computer and keyboard. At the same time, I point out that one problem, which I term the “fundamental problem of modality research”, is that when researchers randomly assign participants to a note-taking modality they are also, indirectly, assigning them to a note-taking style. Furthermore, most studies do not consider factors such as participant transcription capacity that might serve as theoretically important moderators. I then describe the methods used for the systematic review and meta-analysis. These included a robust literature search, double screening of all potentially eligible studies, and double coding of all eligible studies. The meta-analytic methods involved multilevel applications of standard meta-analytic methods. The systematic review resulted in identification of 33 eligible reports containing 42 independent samples and 88 effect sizes, all evaluating whether there are recall differences — almost always operationalized as scores on a quiz given after exposure to lecture material — between participants taking notes by handwriting vs. typewriting, that is, the modality effect. A statistically significant overall meta-analytic average was found g = +0.144 [0.023, 0.265], p = .021, benefiting handwriters over typewriters. This is a small effect; on average, in the typical study typewriters scored about 50% on the recall quiz. The effect size of g = +0.14 translates into an average percent correct of about 57% in the handwriting group. There is some evidence that providing participants with an opportunity to review their notes might substantially reduce the observed advantage for handwriters.
Lau, Timothy Schaun, "The effect of typewriting vs. handwriting lecture notes on learning: a systematic review and meta-analysis." (2022). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. Paper 3982.
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