Step back, laptop – writing notes still reigns.
We all know that laptops have found their way into the classroom and occasional office meeting, taking the place of our once beloved notebooks and writing instruments. But did you know that taking notes with your laptop could actually hinder your ability to learn information?
Breaking research by Pam Mueller and Daniel Oppenheimer sheds new light the subject.
Here are four key takeaways from their study:
Writing builds stronger conceptual understanding:
When you write out your notes by hand, you develop a stronger conceptual understanding of the material, and better success in applying and integrating the material than those who took notes with their laptops.
Your brain works harder:
Mueller and Oppenheimer hypothesize that handwriting requires different types of cognitive processing than typing on a laptop, and both have different consequences for learning. You can only write so fast, so your brain is forced to do more as your hand writes more of the crucial data. In comparison, because you can type as fast as someone talks, you’re taking notes on a laptop without truly letting the words of the other person sink deeply into your brain.
Handwriting is better for short-term and long-term memory:
You’d think that having all of those typed notes would actually help people in the long run, but you’d be wrong! Mueller and Oppenheimer put it to the test (no pun intended). When given a week to study their notes for a test, those who wrote their notes outperformed laptop users. Your handwriting stimulates more effective memory cues because you’re forming the context and content in your own words.
Less distractions = better focus:
There’s a ton of stuff you can do on a laptop, but that doesn’t help when you’re trying to focus on what’s being said in a meeting or classroom. It’s so easy to get distracted when you’re using a laptop, but when you’re taking notes with one pen and one notebook, there’s not much else that can distract you from your goals.