My research investigates the impact different note input techniques have on both note-taking behavior and learning. I develop interaction techniques based on both hypotheses regarding the underlying cognitive mechanisms of note-taking and observation of note-taking behavior. I then evaluate these techniques in experiments assessing behavior and both short-term and long-term learning. This research makes three general contributions:

  1. Provides guidance for developers of note-taking applications.
  2. Investigates the cognitive mechanisms underlying note-taking.
  3. Explores the design of "elective educational technology", which attempts to guide students to appropriate behaviors in situations in which they are not required to use the technology.

This research can also have practical implications. Say you're reading online text. Perhaps it is a research article you are reading in preparation for a conference session. Maybe you are taking an online course. Research has shown that if you take notes, you are going to remember more of what you read.

But how should you take notes? You could type in a text-editor or you could copy-paste, but would one method be faster or help you learn or remember more? My research addresses these questions. The design studies I conduct also produce recommendations regarding how to support selection-based interactions in a user-friendly manner.

I use a range of methods, including:

  • Iterative design studies using the think-aloud protocol
  • Experimental evaluation of note-taking behavior and learning outcomes
  • Artifact analysis


Refereed Full Conference Papers
  1. Bauer, A. and Koedinger, K. R. (2008) Note-taking, selecting, and choice: designing interfaces that encourage smaller selections. In Proceedings of the 8th ACM/IEEE-CS Joint Conference on Digital Libraries (JCDL '08). pp. 397-406. ACM Press
  2. Bauer, A., Koedinger, K.R., Selection-Based Note-Taking Applications. ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI '07) 981-990 (Honorable Mention Paper)
  3. Bauer, A., Koedinger, K.R., Pasting and Encoding: Note-taking in Online Courses. IEEE ICALT '06. 789-793
  4. Graham , Bauer, Bessiere, Schneider "Shared Mental Models in Military Command and Control Organizations: Effect of Social Network Distance", Human Factors and Ergonomics Society's 48th Annual Meeting (2004)
Refereed Short Papers or Posters
  1. Bauer, A., Koedinger, K. Evaluating the Effect of Technology on Note-Taking and Learning. Extended Abstracts of the ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI '06), 520-525
  2. Bauer, A., and Koedinger, K. "Developing a Note Taking Tool from the Ground Up". Ed-Media 2005. AACE Press, 4181-4186. (Awarded Best Poster)
  3. Gollan, T.H., Perea, M., Bauer, A., (1999). On the road to two routes: Accessing gender in Spanish. The 40th Annual Meeting of the Psychonomic Society, Los Angeles, CA.

List of Studies

Text-Editing vs. Handwriting
This study compared note-taking using a text-editor with note-taking using pencil and paper. It found that students record more notes using the text-editor, and the increased quantity was composed entirely of verbatim notes.
This study compared an interface that allowed students to copy-paste or type with an interface that only allowed students to type. It found that students copy-pasted far more notes than they typed, and appeared to forget more at a weeks delay when they copy-pasted. There was also a negative association between large copy-paste selections and learning.
Typing vs. Pasting
This study compared four interfaces: one that only allowed typing, one that only allowed copy-pasting, a third that only allowed copy-pasting and restricted selection-size, and a final that supported a novel method of note-taking. Students disliked the latter two interfaces, used them less, and performed worse on learning outcomes. Interestingly, unrestricted pasting was faster than typing, though students still performed worse when making larger selections.
Restricting Selection Size
This study compared two (better designed!) interfaces that encouraged shorter selections with an unrestricted interface. Selection size was reduced in the latter two interfaces, and students actually preferred the restricted interface to the unrestricted interface. However, encouraging shorter selections was not observed to increase learning.
Highlighting vs. Copy-Pasting
This study compared copy-pasting with highlighting. It found that students record far more notes when highlighting. The presence of a notepad may speed up note-taking, but only if students cannot edit the notepad. While students report that the process of recording notes in a notepad helps them learn, they do not believe this effect is as strong when highlighting. They report using highlighting mostly to facilitate review. However, students record the same material when highlighting as they do when taking notes in a notepad.