Typing vs. Handwriting

Is typing your notes as good as handwritten notes? Studies say, NO! It’s likely that a laptop or tablet has replaced a paper notebook and pen in your life. Students regularly use laptops to take notes or search certain topics during class lectures. Although note-taking on a laptop may be faster than by hand, does it share the same learning benefits?

In a study published in Psychological Science, Pam A. Mueller of Princeton University and Daniel M. Oppenheimer of the University of California, Los Angeles decided to test how note-taking by hand and by computer affected learning. “When people type their notes, they have this tendency to try and take verbatim notes and write down as much of the lecture as they can,” Mueller tells NPR’s Rachel Martin. “The students who were taking longhand notes in our studies were forced to be more selective— because you can’t write as fast as you can type. And that extra processing of the material that they’re doing benefited them.”

In one of the studies, two groups were shown TED talks on various topics. Students typing notes in comparison to those writing them out resulted in significantly more words recorded. When testing the groups afterwards, starting with remembering facts, both groups did equally well. When asked questions pertaining to “conceptual-application” however, the laptop users did significantly worse. Although they were able to write more, it seems there was a disruption in the processing of information. Maybe elementary schools shouldn’t be so quick to toss the penmanship classes to the wayside. It seems in some cases, there is still some benefit to doing things the old-fashioned way!

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