Do Instructor-Provided Online Notes Facilitate Student Learning?

Jerrold E. Barnett
Northwest Missouri State University


Previous research has shown that providing students an outline or some form of notes prior to lectures and for later review facilitates learning. Recent advances in technology make this practice practical and inexpensive. To test the efficacy of instructor provided notes, students studied lecture material under one of four conditions. Some students listened and took notes without instructor assistance. Others listened and took notes using an instructor-provided outline with spaces for students in fill in important information. A third group listened with a complete set of notes that includes virtually every idea in the lecture (in outline form). Finally, a control group studied the complete set of instructor notes without hearing the lecture. The lecture was 35 minutes and covered the structure and functions of the brain. Memory was tested in Experiment 1, while memory and transfer were measured in Experiment 2. In both studies, the group taking their own notes and the group with the instructor-provided skeletal notes performed better than the groups with full set of notes (regardless of whether they heard the lecture). However, instructor-provided skeletal notes did not increase test performance beyond what students achieved simply by taking their own notes.

About the Author(s)...

Jerrold E. Barnett, Ph.D., is Professor and Department Chair in the Psychology/Sociology/Counseling Department at Northwest Missouri State University in Maryville, Missouri. He teaches courses in Educational Psychology and in testing. His research focuses upon learning strategies and self-regulated learning. He can be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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