Learning from Lectures

Alison King’s article in JSTOR on “Comparison of Self-Questioning, Summarizing, and Notetaking-Review as Strategies for Learning from Lectures.”

Underprepared college students in three conditions viewed a lecture, took notes, and then engaged in their respective study strategies. Those trained in questioning generated (and answered) their own questions based on the lecture, those trained in summarizing wrote original summaries of the lecture, and those in an untrained control group simply reviewed their lecture notes. At immediate testing summarizers recalled more of the lecture content than did self-questioners, who in turn outperformed notetaking-reviewers. On a retention test of lecture content one week later, the self-questioners performed somewhat better than the summarizers and significantly better than the notetaking-reviewers. Self-questioners’ and summarizers’ lecture notes contained more ideas from the lecture than did those of the notetaking-review students. Use of these generative study strategies appears to enhance learning from lectures by improving encoding both during the lecture and following the lectures; and for long-term retention of lecture material, self-questioning may be a more effective study strategy than summarizing.

So, perhaps, I could suggest that students do both summarizing and self-questioning. Or perhaps suggest when students are cramming to use summarization but when they are actually studying, to do self-questioning.

One thought on “Learning from Lectures”

  1. I know some of your students are unfamiliar or unpracticed with successful academic behaviors – have you heard of or taught them to use Cornell Notes? It’s a system we’ve implemented at the high school where I teach (as part of the AVID curriculum), and it incorporates all of the above in a highly structured way. It has been very effective for my students as a note-taking, reflection, and study tool. This link http://coe.jmu.edu/LearningToolbox/cornellnotes.html provides a summary – but there is so much more to it.

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