Which is better: taking notes by hand or on a laptop?

The idea of taking class notes by hand just seems old-fashioned to many students today.



But, according to NPR , it turns out there are still advantages to doing things the old-fashioned way …


A study has shown that taking notes by hand is slower … and that’s, in part, what makes it more useful in the long run than taking notes on a laptop,

“When people type their notes, they have this tendency to try to take verbatim notes and write down as much of the lecture as they can.”

“Students taking longhand notes have to be more selective — because you can’t write as fast as you can type. And that extra processing of the material that they were doing benefited them.”

The more words students copied verbatim (on laptops), the worse they performed on recall tests – especially on “conceptual-application” questions (versus simple memorization).


Why is that?

According to the researchers: Note-taking can be categorized two ways: generative and nongenerative.

Generative note-taking pertains to “summarizing, paraphrasing, concept mapping,” while nongenerative note-taking involves copying something verbatim.

And they say that there are two hypotheses to why note-taking is beneficial in the first place.

The first idea is called the encoding hypothesis, which says that when a person is taking notes, “the processing that occurs” will improve “learning and retention.”

The second, called the external-storage hypothesis, is that you learn by being able to look back at your notes, or even the notes of other people.

“There is suggestive evidence that longhand notes may have superior external storage as well as superior encoding functions”.


So, close your laptop and grab a pen and some paper …



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