Faculty and Student Perceptions of Providing Instructor Lecture Notes to Students: Match or Mismatch?

Article excerpt

Students and faculty were surveyed about their perceptions of faculty members providing a replica of instructor lecture notes to students, and the subsequent impact that practice might have on student attendance and student learning. Each group was also surveyed about particular preferences in information delivery in the classroom. Results indicate significant mismatches in the perceptions of faculty and students regarding these pedagogical choices, complicating the decisions faculty make regarding providing instructor notes to students. A compromise solution is proposed, and faculty are encouraged to reshape their teaching approach, considering all the complexities involved, to a method that may work to maximize student learning.


Lecturing to students continues to be the dominant mode of instruction in college classrooms (Armbruster, 2000; Bligh, 2000). According to generative theory (Wittrock, 1990), students actively construct meaning by creating relationships (a) with information provided in lecture, and (b) between information provided in lecture and their own prior knowledge. From this perspective, generative processing is challenging for students because they must "listen to the lecture, select important ideas, hold and manipulate these ideas in working memory, interpret the information, decide what to record, and then write it down" (Armbruster, 2000, p. 176). Research on the interactions between faculty lecturing and student notetaking has yielded fruitful results. For instance, Stewart (1989) found that for simple recall tasks, lecturer enthusiasm was more important when students take notes as compared to when students just listen. However, students are not particularly good at taking complete notes (Kiewra, 1985a), and estimates of student accuracy in lecture notetaking hover around 40% (Kiewra, DuBois, Christensen, Kim, & Lindberg, 1989). This is unfortunate because accurate lecture notetaking is related to better test performance (Williams & Eggert, 2002).

The benefit of providing notes to students can occur without students attending lecture (Kiewra, 1985a), but research results are mixed. Vandehey, Marsh, and Diekhoff (2005) found that in a semester-long class-based study using 3 conditions (student-generated notes, instructor-provided partial notes, and instructor-provided full notes), final grades and attendance did not differ across the 3 groups. However, in a study of introductory psychology students controlling for initial levels of student knowledge and academic ability, Cornelius and Owen-DeSchryver (2008) found that students receiving partial notes performed better on later exams and a cumulative final exam than students receiving full notes. Cornelius and Owen-DeSchryver (2008) also report that students in the full note condition reported a negative effect on attendance. Somewhat related to attendance, Kakhnovets and Terry (2008) found that when rated by observers, students who received lecture slides were less attentive during class. These researchers also found that those without lecture slides had higher quiz scores and that these students (without lecture slides) reported that the lectures held their attention more. Thus, in some studies, there is a beneficial effect of on class performance (e.g., Austin, Lee, & Carr, 2004), but this effect is not consistent. Furthermore, there is conflicting research on the impact of class attendance and attentiveness based on whether full, partial, or no notes are provided. One goal of this research was to examine how the potential match or mismatch between student and faculty expectations may impact the classroom environment.

In previous research, Knight and McKelvie (1986) reported that students who did not attend lectures performed as well as those who did attend, particularly when the former group is given a written summary to study. It appears that the benefit of lectures notes may come from the review of notes, not in the taking of the notes per se (Armbruster, 2000; Kiewra, 1985a; 1985b). …