Active Learning Ideas: The Note Check | On Effective Instruction

Active Learning Ideas: The Note Check

Notes on a TableNote Check

Students do a great deal of their learning through reading, but they often receive little instruction in how to read effectively. Active learning exercises such as summary and note checks can help students process what they’ve read and help them develop the ability to focus on important information.


Students pair with a partner/small group to briefly (2-5 minutes) share notes. They can clarify key points covered, generate and/or resolve questions, generate a problem to solve, solve a problem posed by the instructor, or write a paragraph synthesizing key ideas as set out in partner’s notes.

In a new study—conducted by Mueller and Oppenheimer—finds that people remember lectures better when they’ve taken handwritten notes, rather than typed ones. In three studies, they found that students who took notes on laptops performed worse on conceptual questions than students who took notes longhand. They show that whereas taking more notes can be beneficial, laptop note takers’ tendency to transcribe lectures verbatim rather than processing information and reframing it in their own words is detrimental to learning.

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