SPAR #1: Using Notes

The use of a note card on quizzes would adversely affect learning in our class.

If you accept the premise that the goal of this class is to gain knowledge and skills that we, as students, will be able to utilize for the rest of our lives, it becomes important to look at the long term effect note-taking has on memory recall. Humans have developed a technique for memory management called ‘transactive memory.’ If we realize that a friend of ours knows something, we are less likely to remember it ourselves. This also applies to the ability to look something up online or where we have it written down. In an experiment created by Columbia University, participants were given random trivia to memorize. All of the participants typed the trivia into a computer, but half of them were told that their work would be erased. Recall of the typed material was 40% better in the group who believed that they could not rely on their typed notes to remember the information. Humans are very good at utilizing the knowledge repositories that they have created, whether it is a friend, a search engine, an encyclopedia or notes carefully crammed onto a 5x7 card. But, when it comes down to it, in the real world no one is going to wait while we flip through our notebook looking for the information that we can’t quite remember.

Keim, Brandon. “Search Engines Change How Memory Works.” Wired 14 Jul. 2011. Wired Science. Web. 15 Jan. 2012.

The use of a note card on quizzes would positively affect learning in our class.

Learning is a complex process, and we cannot just press a button to memorize all of our course material. Each of us learn in a slightly different way. For some students, repetition is needed, for others hands on is the only way to go. If note-taking helps a good number of students to remember and retain the lessons in this course, then denying them that opportunity would be detrimental to their learning experience. To test this question, a group of students were presented with a lecture on psychology. Half of these students were allowed to take notes, and the other half were not. After quizzing the students, it was discovered that each group remembered about 40% of the information that was covered. However, when the quality (rather than quantity) of the answers were examined, it was discovered that the students who had taken notes recalled pertinent points, where the non note-taking half recalled information seemingly at random. By taking notes, the students were able to point their brains at the correct information to remember. In this class we are given Power Point slides containing the lectures. Without the incentive to write notes for the quiz, many students will skip taking their own notes for studying, thereby reducing their chances of actually learning the material in this class.

Wax, Dustin. “Writing and Remembering: Why We Remember What We Write.” Lifehack 28 Sep. 2011. Lifehack. Web. 15 Jan. 2012.

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