Graduation Date


Document Type

Master's Thesis


Master of Science



Program Director

Jennifer Lucko, PhD

First Reader

Katherine Lewis, PhD

Second Reader

Elizabeth Truesdell, EdD


A large body of research shows that note taking style can influence how much information we remember, as well as whether notes should be taken on paper or a computer (Igo & Kiewra, 2007; Kobayashi, 2005; Mueller & Oppenheimer, 2014; Urry et al., 2021). Little research, however, investigates what students think about the note taking process. Therefore, the purpose of the study was to determine (1) students’ perception of the note taking process, (2) whether the explicit teaching of a note taking strategy improved students’ recall scores on learned information, and (3) whether physical note taking was more beneficial for student recall than digital note taking. The mixed methods study was conducted at the high school level, looking specifically at 10th graders. Nineteen secondary students participated in the research, completing a survey on their perceptions of note taking. Additionally, the participants learned vocabulary words in class and took notes in a way that was normal for them. After taking notes, the participants took a recall test on the vocabulary words. One week later, the same process was completed, however this time, students were taught a note taking strategy that emphasized paraphrasing. Participants took notes on the vocabulary words using the new note taking strategy and then took a recall test on the new set of words. The results were compared between the two conditions. When students were taught a note taking strategy, recall scores on a five question quiz increased. Further, students who took notes on paper tended to have better quiz scores than their digital note taking peers. Additionally, results of the student perspective survey indicated that students have been taught a note taking strategy, but no longer use it. Similarly, students revealed that they typically took notes by writing down a word-for-word definition of a new term. The results of the study emphasize the importance of teaching students note taking skills that promote encoding.

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