Research Output

The medium makes the message: Effects of cues on students' lecture notes

  Previous work has shown that students’ notes often fail to record key facts and concepts. The relatively recent widespread adoption of PowerPoint slides and handouts might now help students to record key issues, but only if they can recognize the cues that identify these. 238 note-sets were taken from first-year students attending four lectures using copy paper. In each lecture four separate possible cues were identified: a slide, a statement, a discussion and an ‘interactive window’ (a short problem-solving session embedded in the lecture). Notes were analysed for word counts, abbreviations, note-taking styles and quality of content. Word counts showed non-normal distributions; most students recorded relatively few words but some recorded more than double the modal number. Word counts and the quality of notes were significantly related in three of the four lectures. Most note-sets had no abbreviations and showed a simple linear layout (without, for example, concept maps or new diagrams). Interactive windows produced higher-quality notes than discussions or statements. Hence different cues produce different notes, and lecturers should consider the effects of their lecturing cues on the notes their students will record.

  • Type:


  • Date:

    26 October 2010

  • Publication Status:


  • Publisher

    SAGE Publications

  • DOI:


  • Cross Ref:


  • ISSN:


  • Library of Congress:

    LB2300 Higher Education

  • Dewey Decimal Classification:

    378 Higher education


Huxham, M. (2010). The medium makes the message: Effects of cues on students' lecture notes. Active learning in higher education, 11(3), 179-188.



Education; Cues; Interactive window; Linear; Non-linear; Notes; Processing

Monthly Views:

Available Documents