Expository Lessons

It’s only find it fair that I attempt the same writing assignments as my students. Not only does it model a good example, but it supports the notion that we are learning together. I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed completing this assignment. I intend to share it with the students so that I can demonstrate the importance of hitting deadlines. Thus, my post this weekend will be the expository essay that I just wrote. Perhaps you can learn something by reading it, as I hope my students do:

Takes Notes

Historically, humans have been taking notes to record information for thousands of years. Note-taking is a complex human behavior that organizes, and restructures input into referential symbols. Academics and students have been taking notes since the days of the Ancient Greeks; it is ingrained in education. Note-taking is a beneficial skill that can help students recall and retain information for academic and practical purposes.

First, it is essential to explain the cognitive functions that occur when someone is taking notes. First, the note-taker receives information through an encoded channel such as language or symbols. Next, the note-taker decodes that message as they interpret it. Then, the note-taker encodes a message through symbols through inscribing. Finally, the note-taker can recall that message by decoding their recorded message. External factors such as psychological noise play a massive role in disrupting the encoding process. Provided is an image to visualize the concept:

Next, it is vital to assess the effectiveness of note-taking. There have been several psychological studies that have investigated the effectiveness of note-taking. The results so far have been mixed and inconclusive. There was little data to support that note-taking will improve test scores. However, there were significant implications that note-taking did increase overall retention. According to a 2016 article by NPR, “The first idea is called the encoding hypothesis, which says that when a person is taking notes, “the processing that occurs” will improve “learning and retention.” The study in the article concluded that hand taking notes was more conducive to learning retention than notes taken on electronic devices.

Lastly, it is necessary to dive deeper into the encoding hypothesis according to a psychological study conducted on college students who were assessed on a short reading passage. According to the hypothesis, “The students took notes on 31% of the passage sentences, and such notes were of high structural importance value. Most importantly, note-taking seemed to serve as both an encoding device and an external storage mechanism, with the latter being the more important function. The external storage function not only led to enhanced recall of the notes but also facilitated the reconstruction of other parts of the passage.”

This hypothesis is a demonstration of the encoding specificity principle, which suggests that encoding information such as writing, speaking, or gesturing relates to memory and the ability to recall that information. Evidence suggests that this principle plays a significant role in context and concept-oriented memory.

In summation, note-taking is a skill that humans have used for centuries to record and recall information. The cognitive process that occurs when recording information requires a decoding-encoding cycle that is stated by the encoding specificity principle to aid memory retention and recall. Finally, it is essential to acknowledge that many of the psychological studies on the effectiveness of note-taking, including studies that were refuting the encoding specificity principle, yielded inconclusive or mixed results. Perhaps this concept is particularly challenging to analyze and quantify scientifically.

Note-taking requires focus and keeps the note-taker engaged with the lesson that is being taught. One more thing needs to be factored in; If the alternative to note-taking is being subjected to a range of distractions and external stimuli that tear the student away from the lesson. Then the students who take notes and remains engaged will retain more information and perform better academically. 

I hope this was informative.

-Nobody

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