It’s conventional wisdom that writing notes by hand is better for learning than typing, but now there’s science to back it up. Psychological researchers have found that students who hand-write notes remember conceptual information over a longer period.
Pam Mueller and Daniel Oppenheimer of Princeton University reckon that writing by hand forces note-takers to process information and then selectively write it, while laptop users are more prone to transcribing information verbatim. Their study, published in Psychological Science, says:
Prior studies have primarily focused on students’ capacity for multitasking and distraction when using laptops. The present research suggests that even when laptops are used solely to take notes, they may still be impairing learning because their use results in shallower processing. In three studies, we found that students who took notes on laptops performed worse on conceptual questions than students who took notes longhand. We show that whereas taking more notes can be beneficial, laptop note takers’ tendency to transcribe lectures verbatim rather than processing information and reframing it in their own words is detrimental to learning.
“Ultimately, the take-home message is that people should be more aware of how they are choosing to take notes, both in terms of the medium and the strategy,” Mueller concludes.
The Pen Is Mightier Than the Keyboard [Psychological Science]