Derek Bruff had a post today talking about digital distractions and wondered briefly at the end about note taking. I wrote a comment to his post, but it is advice that I want to make sure I follow myself so I am posting it here for my own record.
In the interactive engagement world I think that note taking is one of a suite of reflective/feedback practices that we can help our students with. After a typical “one correct answer” clicker question, you will have some combination of students that were correct/incorrect for the right/wrong reasons. after some sort of sequence (revoting, class-wide discussion, instructor explanation), the students have now all heard the correct answer. But we know that some of them still don’t understand the answer enough to do anything else with it so it is time to get them to do some reflection or feedback. Options include: writing their own understanding down in their notes, answering a follow-up clicker question, collaborating with a group to answer a question on a worksheet, etc. I see note taking as one of many options in this type of cycle and if we are not getting them to do some other type of feedback/reflection activity then we should at least be giving them a minute or two to reflect in their notes. Of course, I do a terrible job of this AND many students are highly reluctant to take notes so, in general, I prefer the other type of reflection/feedback activities.