I teach at community college, and have often encountered others talking about helping students learn to take good notes. I have never felt that I took good notes as a student. I was too busy thinking about the ideas to carefully write down good notes. Until recently, I thought my lack of skill in note-taking was a deficit. But then I read this article by Henri Picciotto. It resonated.

Now I'd like to convince my colleagues that there are better options than trying to help students take good notes in math class. But I'd like to find some research if I can.

The better options, in my opinion, include:

  • If we have a tutor in the class, they take the notes, and post them for the class.
  • If not, the students take turns taking notes to post.

  • The teacher has notes available.

  • $\begingroup$ “Will you share your slides?” is not about preserving important information, it is about having access to an already-made presentation that can be plundered for one's own presentation. $\endgroup$
    – Rusty Core
    Sep 1, 2019 at 18:18

1 Answer 1


You seem to be seeking research to show there are better options than note-taking. I can't answer the question you posed, but you will need to overcome the evidence that note-taking is effective. For example:

Jennifer Gonzalez. "Note-taking: A Research Roundup" September 9, 2018. Link.

"Whether it’s taking notes from lectures (Kiewra, 2002) or from reading (Rahmani & Sadeghi, 2011; Chang & Ku, 2014), note-taking has been shown to improve student learning. In other words, if we want our students to remember more of what they learn in our classes, it’s better to have them take notes than it is to not have them take notes."

  • $\begingroup$ Joseph, did you read the article I linked by Henri Picciotto? I'm curious what your thoughts are on this. $\endgroup$
    – Sue VanHattum
    Sep 1, 2019 at 20:44
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ @SueVanHattum: I wonder if there is a personality difference that determines which strategy is more advantageous? I need to take notes in lectures, seminars, meetings, and I have been that way since high school. However, in certain circumstances while teaching, I tell students: Don't take any notes on this topic right now: I need your full attention, and you can refer to the text later. $\endgroup$ Sep 1, 2019 at 22:20
  • $\begingroup$ I took notes in my math classes, but they looked terrible. They were not what any workshop on good note-taking would recommend. $\endgroup$
    – Sue VanHattum
    Sep 2, 2019 at 2:24
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ The quoted studies by Chang/Ku principally purports to show that students taught note-taking strategies take better notes, not that "student learning" improves. I am skeptical of the optimistic characterization of the other cited studies. In any case, in general, one would expect that among students taught that note-taking is a good thing, the students who perform better also take better notes, whether or not this activity contributed to their learning, simply because better performing students are more likely to be conscientious and follow instruction. $\endgroup$
    – Dan Fox
    Sep 2, 2019 at 9:26

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