Author's School

Graduate School of Arts & Sciences

Author's Department/Program



English (en)

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Chair and Committee

Sandra Hale


Three experiments examined notetaking strategies and their relation to test performance. In Experiment 1, participants handwrote or typed lecture notes, and were instructed to organize their notes or to transcribe the lecture. Notetaking with computers led to better test performance than taking handwritten notes. Moreover, transcribing with computers resulted in better test performance compared to those who took organized notes with computers. Because computers resulted in the best test performance, the subsequent experiments focused on notetaking using computers. Experiment 2 showed that organized notes produced the best recall after a delay, consistent with the levels-of-processing framework. However, when participants restudied their notes in Experiment 3, typing transcribed notes produced the best recall. Our results suggest that both the translation effect: Gathercole & Conway, 1988) and the levels-of-processing effect: Craik & Lockhart, 1972) improve test performance, but optimal learning results from a combination of the two. Correlational analyses of data from all three experiments revealed that for those who took organized notes, working memory predicted note-quantity, which predicted recall on both immediate and delayed tests. For those who took transcribed notes, in contrast, only note-quantity was a significant predictor. These results suggest that individuals with poor working memory: a skill traditionally thought to be needed for notetaking) can take effective notes, essentially “leveling the playing field” for individuals across the range of working memory abilities. Taken together, the study introduces a notetaking strategy: transcribing) that can be effective given the proper notetaking method: computers) for students of diverse cognitive abilities.


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