Using good old-fashioned pen and paper to take notes instead of a laptop is a smarter choice for students.
Dutch researchers at the University of Trondheim in Norway found that students using pen and paper to take notes remember their lectures better and longer than those using a laptop.
Audrey and Ruud van der Weel, working at Trondheim for the past 21 years, measured the brain activity of students while they were typing notes and when they took notes by hand. They found writing out notes stimulated greater brain activity.
“You hold a pen and think about what you are going to write and draw a graphic or arrows,” Ruud van der Weel told Dutch broadcaster RTL News. “The brain is lazier if we type out what someone says on a keyboard.”
Their findings confirm an earlier study - by Pam Mueller and Daniel Oppenheimer from the universities of Princeton and California respectively – which found that students remember a lecture much easier if they take notes by hand.
Students watched a video of a lecture or a talk and took notes on it either longhand or on laptops. Thereafter, participants took a quiz on the content and longhand note takers outperformed laptop note takers. Analysis of the student notes showed that laptop-users tended to transcribe a lot of the speaker’s words verbatim. The researchers suspect that this was because those who typed notes were inclined to transcribe lecturers rather than process them.
The researchers concluded: “Many researchers have suggested that laptop note taking is less effective than longhand note taking for learning. 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,” Mueller and Oppenheimer concluded.
by Anesca Smith
©Wittenborg University Press