Collaborative note-taking affects cognitive load: the interplay of completeness and interaction
Studies showing improved learning performances for students who take notes collaboratively have speculated that sharing this task among group members may reduce the extraneous cognitive burden placed on each member. Therefore, a study (n=171) was conducted in the context of a fipped scientifc writing course to examine the efects of
collaborative note-taking on student’s levels of cognitive load. Students in the course were divided into two groups, with members of the treatment group being directed to take collaborative notes in a shared online document and members of the control group receiving no such instructions. The study also measured the level of collaboration the collaborative note-takers engaged in, as well as the level of completeness of the notes that they produced.
The results showed that, frstly, the treatment group reported higher levels of both germane and extraneous cognitive load compared to those of the control group, meaning that collaborative note-takers experienced higher levels of understanding of course content as well as increased confusion. Secondly, the level of collaboration was positively and signifcantly correlated with levels of germane load (understanding), but not with extraneous load (confusion). Thirdly, no correlation was found between completeness of notes and cognitive load. Accordingly, the authors suggest that collaborative note-taking is worthwhile, as the gains to students’ understanding of course content outweigh the disadvantages of increased confusion.
Note-taking is an ordinary, common student practice at universities, which is rapidly changing under the influx of electronic technologies for recording and storing audio and visual educational materials. However, little attention has been paid to the actual organization of note-taking. This chapter presents an ethnomethodological study of the real-world orderliness of note-taking. It shows that note-taking is a collaborative production of teachers and students: students take into account the details of teacher’s speech and gestures while teachers adjust their lecturing activities to the visible actions of note-taking students. The analysis, based primarily on the data from lectures for undergraduate students in a Russian university, shows that note-taking practices are interwoven into the choreography of classroom interaction, the local history of student learning, and the knowledge certification practices at universities. The preliminary description of the details of local material practices of note production and usage lays the foundation for the analysis of note-taking as a routinely organized and organizational situated activity.
Eye tracking is a non-invasive method that has proven invaluable in studying attention, cognitive control and other higher order mental processes. The term mental attentional capacity was introduced by Juan Pascual-Leone in the Theory of Constructive Operators within the framework of a neo-Piagetian approach to cognitive development, where it is also known as the M-operator. It corresponds to the number of schemes that can be maintained and processed in the focus of mental attention (MA) and thus could be interpreted as a maturational component of working memory. To our knowledge, no eye tracking studies have been conducted so far with parametric measures of mental attentional capacity, which involve evaluating the effect on mental attentional load on eye movements. In the current study, groups of adults and children completed all levels of MA load in two interference conditions (high and low). The results of this study show that the eye movements of adults and children during a cognitive task are affected differently by MA load.
The majority of neuroimaging studies focus on brain activity during performance of cognitive tasks; however, some studies focus on brain areas that activate in the absence of a task. Despite the surge of research comparing these contrasted areas of brain function, their interrelation is not well understood. We systematically manipulated cognitive load in a working memory task to examine concurrently the relation between activity elicited by the task versus activity during control conditions. We presented adults with six levels of task demand, and compared those with three conditions without a task. Using whole-brain analysis, we found positive linear relations between cortical activity and task difficulty in areas including middle frontal gyrus and dorsal cingulate; negative linear relations were found in medial frontal gyrus and posterior cingulate. These findings demonstrated balancing of activation patterns between two mental processes, which were both modulated by task difficulty. Frontal areas followed a graded pattern more closely than other regions. These data also showed that working memory has limited capacity in adults: an upper bound of seven items and a lower bound of four items. Overall, working memory and default-mode processes, when studied concurrently, reveal mutually competing activation patterns.
We examined the effect of involuntary attention switching (related to mismatch negativity generation in the oddball paradigm) on fatigue development during trials of different durations. The experiment consisted of two trials, long (40 min) and short (15 min), and two experimental conditions in each trial: the simple reaction task (deviants-only paradigm) and the stimuli recognition task (oddball paradigm). In each condition, a participant responded to each target acoustic stimulus by squeezing a handgrip dynamometer. We found the significantly lower rates of fatigue development in the short-trial deviants-only paradigm compared to the long trial. The short- and the long-trial oddball paradigms differed significantly from both the short- and the long-trial deviants-only paradigms. The results demonstrated that the fatigue developed differently depending on the expected trial duration. The involuntary activation of attention broke this subconscious regulative mechanism leading to increase of the compression force during the long trial and its decrease during the short. © 2016 Aleksandrov, Knyazeva, Stankevich, Dmitrieva and Shestakova.
Eye-tracking is a non-invasive measure that has been repeatedly used for studying attention and related cognitive processes. While eye-tracking is not a direct measure of brain activity, it has been shown to reveal information about mental processes, that may not be easily accessible through other measures, such as problem solving strategies. Mental attentional capacity corresponds to the amount of information an individual can maintain and manipulate in mind (Pascual-Leone, J. ,1970); it is considered the central maturational component of working memory (Arsalidou, M., Pascual-Leone, J., & Johnson, J. ,2010). This construct has been found to be closely related to other aspects of cognitive competence and intelligence (Johnson et al., 2003). Research into relation between eye movements and mental attentional capacity across development at the moment is sparse and fragmented and no eye tracking studies have been conducted so far with parametric developmental measures, such as the colour matching tasks (Arsalidou, M., Pascual-Leone, J., & Johnson, J. ,2010), which would allow to dissociate changes in saccades and fixations related to working memory load (n = 6) from those related to interference control and trace the maturation of these two processes. The purpose of this study is to investigate the relation between eye-tracking indices (e.g., number of fixations) and mental attentional capacity. Data from adult participants showed significant differences between number of fixations per trial for different levels of mental attentional load. Additionally, analysis revealed significant negative correlation between number and duration of fixations and accuracy for both the balloons and the clowns versions of the task, with the correlation being stronger for the clowns version, which contains interference. Interestingly, for each difficulty level, children generate a similar number of fixations regardless of interfering features, whereas adults make fewer fixations when the task has less interfering features. This suggests that adults may have different strategies depending on the task. Increased number of fixations may indicate that children favor a visual-spatial strategy, whereas adults favor a verbal strategy.
The theory of constructive operators was used as a framework to design two versions of a paradigm (color matching task, CMT) in which items are parametrically ordered in difficulty, and differ only contextually. Items in CMT-Balloon are facilitating, whereas items in CMT-Clown contain misleading cues. Participants of ages 7–14 years and adults (N = 149) were studied. We found significant model-predicted graded differences in performance between the facilitating and misleading tasks, across and within age groups, expressing age versus items’ demand interactions. Younger children were differentially affected by contextual cues. Even though both task versions were highly correlated with a well-established developmental measure of attentional capacity, CMT-Clown, which contained misleading cues, was a better measure of working memory capacity. These results show a need to estimate degree of misleadingness whenever performance levels in working memory or mental attention tasks are compared and interpreted. Developmental profiles of both tasks are discussed in terms of contextual differences and neoPiagetian stages of development.
Institutions affect investment decisions, including investments in human capital. Hence institutions are relevant for the allocation of talent. Good market-supporting institutions attract talent to productive value-creating activities, whereas poor ones raise the appeal of rent-seeking. We propose a theoretical model that predicts that more talented individuals are particularly sensitive in their career choices to the quality of institutions, and test these predictions on a sample of around 95 countries of the world. We find a strong positive association between the quality of institutions and graduation of college and university students in science, and an even stronger negative correlation with graduation in law. Our findings are robust to various specifications of empirical models, including smaller samples of former colonies and transition countries. The quality of human capital makes the distinction between educational choices under strong and weak institutions particularly sharp. We show that the allocation of talent is an important link between institutions and growth.