A new study shows that taking notes by hand can boost your recall of information and give you a better grasp of concepts.
What Works Best?
A recent study published in Psychological Science argues that there is significant value in taking notes by hand. Pam A. Mueller of Princeton University and Daniel M. Oppenheimer of the University of California, Los Angeles set up experiments to compare how note taking versus using a computer impacts students’ ability to learn.
Since typing is faster than taking notes by hand, students using a laptop for their notes are more likely to try to type out a lecture verbatim, capturing everything that is said. Students taking notes by hand however are forced to evaluate the content and summarize, a process that helps them recall information later. The more students copied a lecture verbatim, the worse they performed on recall tests.
A further study allowed students to review their notes before testing. Again, the students who took longhand notes performed better. “This is suggestive evidence that longhand notes may have superior external storage as well as superior encoding functions,” Mueller and Oppenheimer write. In other words, it’s better to write your notes by hand. This difference in performance may in part be due to the cognitive processes involved in writing notes by hand, and also because the handwritten notes that students later review are shorter, more concise and capture concepts rather than every single word.
Of course, along with the increase in recall and testing performance, students writing notes by hand were also less likely to be distracted. While technology makes it easier to capture more data more quickly, sometimes a slower method is actually more efficient… and you don’t get interrupted by the constant flow of digital distractions. Wait, I gotta go, someone’s texting me.
For more information, read the study here.