Visual Thinking: Exploring current practices and perspectives re student notetaking


  • Dawne Irving-Bell Edge Hill University
  • Peter Hartley Edge Hill University



Despite its importance, student note taking is under-researched and under-theorised. Many studies are outdated, analysing pre-digital behaviour. Hence, we question whether earlier findings still apply (as does van der Meer, 2012). Although we find some innovations useful, such as collaborative note taking (Orndorff, 2015), much recent research is also problematic. For example, consider widely reported claims that students taking longhand notes perform better than students using laptops (Mueller and Oppenheimer, 2014). Recent studies suggest more complex relationships (Luo et al., 2018) but typically adopt short-term experimental approaches. As a result, current advice and guidance for university students tends to be limited, often listing different techniques with relatively little commentary/analysis.

This session enabled participants to review progress on this ALDinHE supported project, inviting discussion on issues/development regarding our three main aims to:

  • Investigate current students’ note taking practices/preferences and develop transferable models to inform guidance and further research.
  • Pilot structured interventions, introducing different methods.
  • Produce/disseminate tools/approaches for longer-term investigation and application/adaptation by colleagues elsewhere.

Author Biographies

Dawne Irving-Bell, Edge Hill University

Dawne Irving-Bell, Ph.D. is a Reader in Teaching and Learning. She is a National Teaching Fellow (NTF), Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (PFHEA), holds a Collaborative Award for Teaching Excellence (CATE) and received a National Award from her subject association in recognition of her outstanding contribution to Teacher Education. With a passion for visual-thinking and technology education, Dawne established ‘The National Teaching Repository’, an Open Education Resource with proven reach and impact across the global Higher Education community.

Peter Hartley , Edge Hill University

Peter Hartley is a Higher Education Consultant, National Teaching Fellow and Visiting Professor at Edge Hill University, following previous roles as Professor of Education Development at Bradford and Professor of Communication at Sheffield Hallam. His ongoing consultancy includes mentoring NTF/CATE applicants, institutional strategies for learning technology/spaces and assessment (see the PASS project at Now involved in the new SEDA/Jisc Student Partnership Impact Award, he co-authored the second edition of Success in Groupwork, with Mark Dawson and Sue Beckingham (


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How to Cite

Irving-Bell, D. and Hartley , P. (2022) “Visual Thinking: Exploring current practices and perspectives re student notetaking”, Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education, (25). doi: 10.47408/jldhe.vi25.963.

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