Academic journal article Education & Treatment of Children

A Meta-Analytic Review of Guided Notes

Academic journal article Education & Treatment of Children

A Meta-Analytic Review of Guided Notes

Article excerpt


Research indicates that student achievement improves when teachers provide opportunities for active engagement. Guided notes have been suggested as a way to increase active student responding during teacher-directed lectures. The purpose of this review was to summarize research on the effectiveness of guided notes. Specifically, we sought to synthesize the research examining (a) the effectiveness of guided notes on various outcome variables and across different ages, (b) procedural variations in guided notes implementation, and (c) the social validity of guided notes. Results indicated that guided notes are an effective and socially valid method for increasing note-taking accuracy and improving academic performance, particularly for school-age students. Recommendations are made for everyday classroom practice and for future research.

DESCRIPTORS: guided notes, active student responding, note-taking, lecture.


The major educational goals of student understanding of content and application of skills are commonly pursued via lecture in classroom settings. Students are held accountable for obtaining information from the lectures, and performance is evaluated on class exams and quizzes. Therefore, students should take thorough notes during lectures so they can refer to the content at a later time (Boyle, 2001). However, students' translations of lectures are often incomplete and inaccurate due to difficulties listening to a lecture and writing information simultaneously (Barbetta & Skaruppa, 1995) and distinguishing essential information from unimportant details (Stringfellow & Miller, 2005). Note taking is particularly challenging for students with disabilities (Hughes & Suritsky, 1994; Suritsky & Hughes, 1991) and becomes increasingly challenging as students progress through school and material becomes more complex. Some students may abort taking notes altogether as frustration with the task increases (Hamilton, Seibert, Gardner, & Talbert-Johnson, 2000).

Educators have pursued printed notes as a potential solution to poor or absent note taking. Preprinted notes such as PowerPoint handouts or copies of lecture notes may be provided to all students or to students who have such an accommodation specified in their individualized education programs (Cook, 2009). With intact printed notes, it may be difficult to determine if students are actively engaging with the provided notes during class presentation or passively and intermittently attending to the information. Guided notes offer an alternative to traditional note taking and preprinted notes by providing an outline of a lecture with blanks inserted where key concepts and examples from the lesson should be recorded (Heward, 1994). The student actively interacts with the content and the teacher by listening carefully to discern important information and recording the information without having to write extensively (Montis, 2007).

Several studies have reported on the effects of guided notes on various outcome variables across different ages, ethnicities, and abilities of students (e.g., Austin, Lee, Thibeault, Carr, & Bailey, 2002; Lazarus, 1991; 1993; Patterson, 2005; Sweeney et al., 1999). In general, these studies indicate that guided notes are an effective way to improve outcomes for children and adolescents, including those with disabilities. However, there is no current synthesis of the literature on using guided notes as an alternative to traditional methods of note taking during classroom lectures. The purpose of this review was to provide a summary and meta-analysis of the literature on guided notes with respect to effectiveness, procedural variations, and social validity.


Procedures for Article Search and Selection

A three-step process was used to identify studies. First, we completed computer database searches using Education Research Complete, ERIC, and PsycINFO (as far back as these databases extended through June, 2008) using the search terms listed in Table 1. …

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