Has there been any research on this mode of instruction and its educational benefits? Has there been any research on that "diffusion" hypothesis?
As you start with the request for academic research in your text and finish on that same note (not in your question title, BTW, hence plenty opportunity for opinionated empirical personal evidence reports :-)) ) here's what a run around the research net delivered:
Math specific stuff? ... Not so much
There is some published material around college level math ed, but that nicely clusters with the 'effective teaching & effective learning scholar search query' mentioned further below.
And then... on to "note taking" and the "subconscious diffusion" hypothesis
There's plenty on note taking in various general or non-math scenarios, but most is about doing it most effectively, e.g.
Then on to the "subconscious diffusion" hypothesis: despite my personal objection to note taking effectiveness per se (I personally found it had negative impact, so I came up with a system where I didn't take notes at all when I was moving around in higher ed -- this was before the advent of mobile phones with great cameras, BTW, so no other recording mechanism was used) there is apparent evidence of its relative effectiveness in learning, based on EEG scans, etc.:
but then I could NOT find papers on the comparison of note taking vs. no note taking at all. (Only some peeps mentioning note taking is considered more "active" than listening attentively -- I disagree, but this is very different for different people, so my position is not applicable to the general student public.)
A counter-search for research results which might conclude that listening is more effective than note taking, or rather that note taking is detrimental to listening, has not been found yet.
I say yet because the plethora of publications focus on improving your note taking skills -- some universities even publish handbooks about effective note taking! -- and I do not expect much research into that specific subject as "note taking" seems to be the agreed upon (undisputable?) common denominator in higher ed.
An evening of meta-research like this might lead one to the cynical conclusion that the world has already lost its youthful "ungrounded idealism" and collectively gone through the 5 levels of trauma processing, arriving at the very mindful accepting stage where mediocre and inferior teachers are to be expected to be present in bulk, this majority due to the huge demand for and meager supply of teachers everywhere, hence obviating the strategy where the resultant problems are better carted off onto the backs of the students ("here's some life's experience for ya, can't receive it too early") and consequently research tracks the hurd, focusing on how to get that bunch of homo sapiens through the ordeal as optimally as possible. Which leads us to...
[Edit:] ha! found some mention at least of research including not taking notes:
- How Much Mightier Is the Pen than the Keyboard for Note-Taking? A Replication and Extension of Mueller and Oppenheimer (2014) Kayla Morehead & John Dunlosky & Katherine A. Rawson (2019) https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10648-019-09468-2
(and no need to pay Springer 38 European Pesos if you use your brain ;-) )
There's also this (and more, once you've hit these in Scholar):
Another bit of research that may be of interest here and could possibly assist in adapting your studying environment/strategy (I assume the teacher is not malleable in his behaviour):
because let's get real: ultimate this is not about note taking good or bad or whatever, but achievement in education, i.e. making it out of there, with a degree if possible, and then on to the real stuff. (and more interesting people -- for you, at least)
Teaching effectiveness research
Ho boy! Drop those first two words in Google Scholar or Bing Academic and you'll be treated to a lot of research being done on improving the teaching effectiveness. (And there's also "Learning Effectiveness" results, though you might want to filter out the AI/Deep Learning noise there)
Little attention to math specifically, but the research spans the entire gamut from preschool to higher ed and adult ed, generally ending up with the conclusion that "classical education" isn't exactly bad but can be improved in various ways, improving: Attention, Variation, Interaction.
Regrettably nobody I checked made the effort to get really nasty and select for horrible teachers as a baseline, though there are some blogs about "inefficient teaching methods". I would like to mention this paper:
and I'm withholding the rest of the title ;-) , because from your description of the class experience there's plenty overlap, despite this being a report about a zero(0!) percent pass rate in schools in Zimbabwe and what possibly went wrong over there. Perceived low morale from the teacher's side being a major common factor with Zimbabwe here, for his teaching methods as you describe them seem not so much "classic" as more "curmudgeon" (facing blackboard, questions to the audience instead of from the audience, etc.)
if I was feeling more compassionate tonight, I'd say the man is tired and probably does not like being in front of a class either. It happens. A lot. Who knows...
Enough fun now, it's a large field of research and a lot is happening. However, as with all endeavours that are very personal, the overall take-away of a lot of the results is "it depends" (on the student, the teacher, the environment, and so on).
Oh-kay, but did anyone compare this prof's modus operandi with anything else in edu land?
All in all, much of the typical way of lecturing looks like a giant waste of time to me. I can only imagine that the most gifted students may benefit from this, and perhaps that is the reason such a mode of instruction is pursued.
Before I attempt an answer:
A note about the "most gifted students may benefit": wrong.
When you are gifted, even a little, you do not benefit from regurgitation like that, because you already picked up where this was going from the books and syllabus that go with the course. All you need is a couple of hints along the way when you get stuck somewhere, the rest is just pedal to the metal at your own pace.
Fundamentally, "gifted" you has three options:
- Either you make sure you get some extra intel during class that's useful and interesting to you (extroversion helps here ;-) ),
- or you do as I did and skip class entirely, going elsewhere for your education: meanwhile, read (nay, grok!) the books, grab/trade the notes off the others where you deem this necessary afterwards (to make sure you don't miss any additional info that inadvertently happens to be disseminated during class by the sub-top teacher and might otherwise hit you in the neck at the exams),
- or you become severely depressed, because you don't receive the necessary amount of input to keep your brain engaged. (I've seen those and generally this tends to spiral towards heavy alcohol abuse. Total drop-out, ending up doing something completely different, is your option when you're lucky.)
(yes, those three options are logical-OR-ed together. There's no exclusivity requirement there. ;-) )
So, please, rethink what it might mean to be gifted in a setting like you describe. If it's already "wasted time" to you, how can it be fruitful to you at all when you are gifted?
Unless your prof took off like a moon rocket at the start of the semester and you are still sitting there flabbergasted only able to hurry your notes, then, okay, maybe he's running at a speed that a gifted person might appreciate. Still, the way you're telling it his interaction with the class leaves things left to be desired and you didn't sound like you're out of your depth yet re the material discussed in class either, so...
nah, doesn't sound like he's in it for the smarties only. Sounds more like he's counting down to retirement or meeting with his buddies instead of having to gab with all the collected bloody youth in there to claim the paycheck. That's being depressed at an older age.
Now about an answer to the "waste of time" from research:
If we can agree that the basic strategy of your prof is using the transmission instructional model of teaching (he disseminates his knowledge to you folks, instead of leading you on a path of discovery), then there's plenty researchers have to say, and, again, ignoring his specific qualities as an educator here, but merely focusing on the various strategies, then I 'read' the research as, once more, "it depends". But that's me and an evening of very interesting publications. You can research this and come to your own conclusions.
Let me approach this one from a different angle, where I come back to your own stated desire to have a mathematics focused answer: I serve and aim to please. :-)
This one is about your future competition in the world and very interesting on various levels, with lots of references to material that's much closer to home geographically:
I wrote this while doing the research and it was fun. While I did not really address this from the perspective of a mathematician (after all, where's the hard logic and the math in here?), I wrote this more from the perspective of an educator interesting in education research, as at least there we might have some rapport as you wanted to hear about scientific research regarding your issues. (The professionals in the edu field have a yearly conference (ICED); this is serious business. If you are interested in this area of research, you might want to check them out.)
While you (OP) may be bothered about the note taking, etc., in my opinion, you (OP) have an over-arching problem causing all this, which might be stated as this question:
How do I spend my student days more optimally? How do I get more out of this endeavour?
[Because right now, I feel like I'm wasting my time and having to adhere to bosses (professors) that do not enthuse me at all.]
Asking that question (and trying to answer it) might lead you to more useful conclusions and strategic and tactical choices.
Without going into it further, here's a few questions for you:
if note taking is such a stressful operation, why not distribute the task?
Have a few people take "official" notes, while others can copy them. Thus they are free to pay more attention to the verbal/interactive part of the lecture, entice the professor into interaction instead of droning on, etc. and make only notes about those few bits they feel very strongly about. Then get together and merge notes or study together. (What researchers mention as more effective note taking by not acting like a photocopier all the time, but digesting the material and only noting those bits that were surprising or otherwise noticeable hints to drive your thought processes. Haven't seen mention of any "team effort" in those papers to game the system like that though. A pity.)
Of course, this requires teamwork and a working team is a long term mutual contract, for mutual benefits: the "note takers" are not to be "used up"! -- personal experience is that some people are good at note taking (seek out the ones who score B/C and are happy with an A once in while; the rare summa cum laude folks write notes only Bletchley Park could decode in their heyday so they're effin' useless for a scheme like this) while others are not good at it, so don't step into the simplistic "equality" trap by rotating the note taking. You'll fail horribly, all around.
I got things done by teaching other students stuff they had a hard time with and they provided me with their notes in exchange. Worked like a charm for years. The "note takers" in the group can gain from the discussion afterwards, when you can explain stuff they might have missed or glossed over while making the notes. Leverage your individual skillsets. Experiment. You'll be surprised. (I discovered that teaching was bloody hard (and cool!), as it goes way beyond verbalizing your own comprehension. Taught me a lot extra about the material, people, communicating information and myself. Never would have discovered that if I'd stayed in my box.)
have you asked the prof for lecture notes? If those exist, that can save a bundle on note taking effort too.
why not be better than my old self and take the prof aside and ask him how he feels? No critique, but are you interested in maybe trying something different next time, sir? Like maybe try a Q&A? Let's try something different, shall we? Not permanently, but once in a while, you know, to keep things interesting? Seek the joy and wonder, try to find it. (That'll be a tough job and needs someone emphatic with the prof to help kick it off, but things can happen. Positively.)
Of course, I can remain cynical and pop in with
but may I be idealistic for a mo' and suggest you try to counter that one by showing some surprising collective initiative? I hope you do!