BY LILLIAN BAZIS
Whether it is history or biology, note taking is something every college student must do at some point. It is the key to success in almost any course, but finding the perfect note-taking method can be difficult. Many college students prefer taking notes on their laptop, instead of by hand, which poses the question of which one is better.
While most students would not expect any discrepancies between the different types of note taking, recent studies have found that those who take notes by hand often learn more than students taking notes on a laptop.
In a study done by Scientific American titled “A Learning Secret: Don’t Take Notes with a Laptop” Pam Mueller and Daniel Oppenheimer found that “those who wrote out their notes by hand had a stronger conceptual understanding and were more successful in applying and integrating the material than those who took notes with their laptops.”
The scientists behind this study, suggest that one of the reasons behind this is that writing by hand is slower than taking notes on a laptop, and students know they will never have time to record all of the information down. Instead, they listen and summarize, which captures the essence of theinformation, and has the student come to a better understanding of what they are being taught.
Those who type their notes, tend to type a lecture word for word, and never fully understand the content that is being put out. Scientific American also found that “high verbatim note content was associated with lower retention of the lecture material”, meaning that it is the quality, not the quantity that counts.
However, some may argue that having more complete and thorough notes to study from your laptop would be more beneficial in the long run. In an article from NPR titled “Attention, Students: Put Your Laptops Away,” it is said that “if students have time to study their notes from their laptops, the fact that they typed more extensive notes than their longhand-writing peers could possibly help them perform better.”
Laptops also can be seen as troubling in a different way when used in a classroom setting. Most laptops are connected to the internet, therefore providing easy access to surfing, messaging, or any other distractions that can come along with the internet.
“Handwriting notes is not only quitter, but also less of a distraction. I focus more when there is not a piece of technology in my hand” states English and Secondary Education student Kirsi Singleton.
A different study by Scientific American titled “A Learning Secret: Don’t Take Notes with a Laptop” in law school, found “nearly 90% of laptop users engaged in online activities unrelated to coursework for at least five minutes, and roughly 60% were distracted for half the class.”
While many different studies and tests have been done on the subject, one thing has remained consistent throughout. Those who take longhand notes are more likely to retain the information given, and perform better on tests, than those who took notes on their laptop.
Maybe students should think twice the next time they open up their laptop in history class, for it may end up beneficial to them in the long run.