Pam Mueller of Princeton University and Daniel Oppenheimer of University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) recently published a paper comparing note-taking via a keyboard with handwritten note-taking.
Their experiments concluded that taking notes on a laptop would actually impair learning. Participants who took notes on a laptop did worse on conceptual questions than those who took handwritten notes. Writing notes by hand strengthens the learning process and increases the quality of that process.
Using a keyboard causes people to only process information at a shallow level. Using pen and paper forces us to be more selective about what we record; we cannot capture every word, therefore, we need to evaluate and summarise key messages as we work.
Taking notes by hand boosts our ability to retain the information, to comprehend it better, and ultimately capture the information’s core message. So simply using our mobile phone to take photos of that carefully explained point of grammar on our classroom’s whiteboard will not give us any deep understanding of the material.
Have a look around your class – see those students whose English you admire? Its a good bet that they are handwriting their notes!