Handwriting is better than typing when taking notes in class

by Grace

Laptops may offer some efficiency in classroom note-taking, but handwriting is better for learning because typing appears related to a “shallower kind of cognitive processing”.

Here is a story from HuffPost about two studies by UCLA psychologists concluding that students who take notes by hand learn better than those who take notes by computer, both in short-term and longer-term learning. They found that computer users tend to engage in “mindless transcription,” which gives them lots of notes, but did not learn as much, especially when testing focused on concepts rather than facts. In addition, at one point they specifically told laptop users not to simply transcribe what they were hearing, but it didn’t work–the computer users were unable to stop themselves from trying to get verbatim notes.

Another possible reason handwriting is better

I can see how it would be easier for a student’s mind to wander while typing as opposed to when he is writing.  On the other hand, did the study incorporate the effect of the many distractions that can easily pull a laptop user’s attention away from the lecture topic?  For example, one college student told me he always has his Twitter feed open so he can constantly check to make sure he doesn’t miss “important” news.  It seems that kind of multitasking could also be related to shallower cognitive processing.

Related:  Successful media multitasking teens are a myth (Cost of College)

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