An integrative review of the cognitive costs and benefits of note-taking

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Students frequently engage in note-taking to improve the amount of information they remember from lectures. One beneficial effect of note-taking is known as the encoding effect, which refers to deeper processing of information as a consequence of taking notes. This review consists of two parts. In the first part, four lines of research on the encoding effect are summarized: 1) manipulation of the lecture material, 2) manipulation of the method of note-taking, 3) the importance of individual differences, and 4) the testing procedure used in the empirical studies. This review highlights the fragmented nature of the current literature. In the second part of this review five forms of cognitive load that are induced by note-taking are distinguished. Cognitive load theory is used to integrate the divergent results in the literature. Based on the review, it is concluded that cognitive load theory provides a useful framework for future theory development and experimental work.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)223-233
Number of pages11
JournalEducational Research Review
Issue numberNovember 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2017


  • Cognitive load
  • Encoding effect
  • Information processing
  • Memory
  • Note-taking


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