Forgot your password?

Students Remember Lectures Better Taking Notes Longhand Than Using Laptops 191

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the blame-keyboards dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "Walk into any university lecture hall and you're likely to see row upon row of students sitting behind glowing laptop screens. Laptops in class have been controversial, due mostly to the many opportunities for distraction that they provide (online shopping, browsing Reddit, or playing solitaire, just to name a few). But few studies have examined how effective laptops are for the students who diligently take notes. Now Robinson Meyer writes at The Atlantic that a new study finds that people remember lectures better when they've taken handwritten notes, rather than typed ones. The 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. 'Our new findings suggest that even when laptops are used as intended — and not for buying things on Amazon during class — they may still be harming academic performance,' says psychological scientist Pam Mueller of Princeton University, lead author of the study. Laptop note takers' tendency to transcribe lectures verbatim rather than processing information and reframing it in their own words is detrimental to learning. If you can type quickly enough, word-for-word transcription is possible, whereas writing by hand usually rules out capturing every word. 'We don't write longhand as fast as we type these days, but people who were typing just tended to transcribe large parts of lecture content verbatim,' says Mueller. 'The people who were taking notes on the laptops don't have to be judicious in what they write down.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Students Remember Lectures Better Taking Notes Longhand Than Using Laptops

Comments Filter:
  • You know what worked better for me then longhand notes? No notes. Listening to the teacher instead of writing worked best for me. Turns out I recalled things better when I spent my attention listening to the teacher rather then trying to write legible notes so I could read then later.

    Just goes to show that people learn differently and making blanket statements for all people gets you into trouble :)


  • by Maxo-Texas (864189) on Monday May 05, 2014 @11:44PM (#46925501)

    And this is the key in working with any population.

    Some people don't need notes.
    Some need anchor notes
    Some need to read the book ahead of time and ask questions.
    And some need to type things down because they can't write fast enough and miss portions of the lecture.
    And some use digitial recorders.

  • Re:Equations (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Ash Vince (602485) * on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @07:56AM (#46927175) Journal

    If you're using Word or OpenOffice, that might be a problem. If you're using LaTeX, it's not, provided that you're a reasonably quick typist and have memorized the standard mathematical commands. I ended up typing all of my lecture notes for my statistics Ph.D. classes without much of a hassle. In fact, most of the students in my classes came to me for portions of my lecture notes, as I was able to capture all of the important comments that the professors would make in haste while continuing on with a derivation or proof.

    When I read this I immediately though that this would be a trade off. The benefit you mention, against the fact that the repeatedly rewriting your notes helped you memorise them.

    You needed to do this when taking written notes because the lecturers would generally fly along so fast you had to scrawl everything down just to keep up, so as soon as you got home that day (or in the break period after the lecture if their was one) you first job was to write your notes up in a more neat, organised fashion, while also making sure all the proofs made mathematical sense.

    This meant that even if you did the minimum possible work you still ended up going over the same stuff at least twice to help it sink in. If you use typed notes and get everything down first time round, then you have no reason to revisit them until exam time and then you will most likely have forgotten the first going over in the lecture. Some diligent students might, but many will not.

    This is one of the cases where what seems like a pointless waste of effort at the time is actually important as it is the slightly dull repetition of something that really helps it sink in to long term memory so you can recall it months later.

"Don't talk to me about disclaimers! I invented disclaimers!" -- The Censored Hacker