Factors affecting construction of notes by students in a first year biology class

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dc.contributor.author Dukhan, Shalini
dc.date.accessioned 2015-01-30T09:46:34Z
dc.date.available 2015-01-30T09:46:34Z
dc.date.issued 2015-01-30
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/10539/16826
dc.description A thesis submitted to the Faculty of Science, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, in fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. Johannesburg, South Africa. 14 October 2014.
dc.description.abstract Research investigations indicate that note-taking and note-making are related to academic performance. This study investigated four factors, in a first-year biology course at a South African University, that influence student note-making practices, and determined whether the quality of notes is related to their approach to learning and their academic performance. The factors that were assessed included: the impact of social and cultural capital of first and second generation students on their expectations of the University academic environment; the students’ experience with their construction of notes at school; the level of detail on slides provided by lecturers, the access that students had to slides on the intranet, and the influence of English as a first or second language. The study commenced at the beginning of semester two 2009 and ended after semester one 2011. Student questionnaires, interviews of students and lecturers, assessment of notes made, and test and examination results were interrogated and sample lectures were video-recorded. The study identified that the students’ high school experience in constructing notes provided the platform for these practices when they entered University. Second-generation students had a more accurate expectation of their ownership for their notes and learning in first year, and of the grades that they received compared to the expectations held by first generation students. Additionally data analysis lead to the inference that self-regulated students, who personalised their notes, performed better than the underprepared students, who learnt solely from the lecturers’ slides; but this statement is not a blanket generalisation. Two lecturers from each semester were interviewed before they commenced lecturing, and one each of their lectures was video-recorded for analysis with student notes. Findings indicated that the amount of detail that lecturers provided on presentation slides stemmed from their conception of the students’ role in learning. When skeletal lecture slides (i.e. slides containing only keywords or key points) were presented then students perceived that they needed to take ownership in constructing their notes, whereas when slides appeared to be detailed they saw them as a ‘complete’ set of notes, and reported being less attentive in class. In both cases students hardly noted any information other than that presented on the slides. Students had access to slides on the intranet in the first semester of each year, but not in the second semester. Although students reported that they were more attentive in class when they did not have access to slides on the intranet, there was only a slight difference in the students’ grades between semesters. In the first study cohort (i.e. 2009), first-language students performed better than second-language students, but performance evened out when an intervention, which used writing as a means to promote critical thinking, was provided in 2010 and 2011. The findings presented in this study would be useful to lecturers who wish to understand how students’ use and reconstruct their class notes during the process of learning. The findings could also be of benefit to student support programmes that seek a practical tool (the writing intervention) to deepen the students’ approach to their learning. en_ZA
dc.language.iso en en_ZA
dc.subject.lcsh Biology - Study and teaching.
dc.subject.lcsh Biology - Technique.
dc.subject.lcsh Study skills.
dc.title Factors affecting construction of notes by students in a first year biology class en_ZA
dc.type Thesis en_ZA


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