In/After Class Notes

Creating measurable learning outcomes, authentic assessment and active learning experiences are critical aspects of effective teaching. Helping students process the information through effective note-taking is also key. Research on In-class and after-class lecture note-taking strategies (2019) by Chen shares updated information on the topic.

The results showed that during class, "the most frequently employed strategy was key point selection, followed by comprehension-monitoring, organization, copying and elaboration. After class, the strategy employed most frequently was elaboration, followed by organization and help-seeking. Students majoring in humanities or social sciences are more likely than those in the natural sciences to use key point selection during class. Students’ in-class note-taking strategies were correlated with their after-class strategies."

Studies show that note-taking serves the dual function of encoding and reviewing and can enhance performance (Kobayashi, 2006). However, this does not indicate that students who take notes are guaranteed to perform well. Studies have highlighted that many students are not effective note-takers (Chen et al., 2017), so attention should be on ‘how’ they take notes. Note-taking involves an active learning process that strongly depends on working memory to manage information comprehension, selection and production. Strategies that affect information processing are

  1. Rehearsal;

  2. Elaboration, external connections between materials and prior knowledge;

  3. Organization, establishment of internal connections within materials;

  4. Metacognitive, monitors information processing to achieve goals; and

  5. Affective/Motivation, supports attention, anxiety, time management and reducing stress. (Braun et al., 2012)

This study found that compared to copying, students performed better at the other three strategies - key point selection, comprehension-monitoring and organization. They also found that elaboration was the least used strategy for in-class note-taking.


Chen, P. (2019). In-class and after-class lecture note-taking strategies. Active Learning in Higher Ed, 1-16.

Braun I. J., & Nückles, M. (2012) Cognitive and affective learning strategies. In: Seel NM (ed.) Encyclopedia of the Sciences of Learning. Boston, MA: Springer, 563-566.

Chen, P. H., Teo, T. & Zhou, M. (2017) Effects of guided notes on enhancing college students’ lecture note-taking quality and learning performance. Current Psychology 36(4): 719–32.

Kobayashi, K. (2006) Combined effects of note-taking/reviewing on learning and the enhancement through interventions: A meta-analytic review. Educational Psychology 26(3): 459–77.

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