Using laptops has become more and more common in classrooms. It’s much faster to take notes when typing versus writing by hand.
Plus, you can easily organize your notes and quickly look up specific items. Technology at its best, right? Not so fast.
A study, led by Pam A. Mueller of Princeton University and Daniel M. Oppenheimer of the University of California, was just released that examined how taking notes by typing and by hand impacts an individual’s ability to learn.
Taking notes can be very beneficial and can help people better synthesize what they are being told. “Learning can occur during both the production and review of notes by allowing the learner to make connections between idea units and engage in deep processing of course content,” says Michael C. Friedman of Harvard University.
When taking notes by hand, you can’t simply write down every word the teacher says and you are forced to listen and then summarize key points.
However, people approached note talking differently when typing on a computer. According to NPR, the study found that people who type notes tend to document what the instructor is saying verbatim.
By doing that, a student is cutting out an important aspect of the learning and not processing the information as well.
To get to that conclusion, the researchers had groups of students listen to a variety of TED talks and take notes. They were then quizzed on what they learned.
The students who typed had documented significantly more words and were able to answer basic factual questions (dates, key events, etc.) as well as those who took notes by hand.
However, when asked more conceptual or application-type questions, the laptop note takers performed significantly worse.
So put the laptop down and go back to the old-fashioned paper way of note taking. You’ll likely learn more and also won’t be tempted to browse your Facebook feed in the middle of class.