Typing vs Hand Notes

Illustration by Bianca Austria

Illustration by Bianca Austria

As technology becomes an integral part of education, many students are left with the decision of how to balance technology with traditional methods of studying. One of these is choosing to take notes by typing on a laptop/tablet, or to hand write the notes on paper. There can be arguments made for both; however, studies have shown that it may be best to use good old pen and paper.

Pam A. Mueller of Princeton University led a study published in Physiological Science concerning different methods of note taking and information processing. The results found that students retained information better and had a stronger understanding of concepts when taking notes by hand.

In the study, students were given several tests to observe factual memory of a lecture and conceptual understanding. Students with laptops and internet access had the lowest scores in both categories, while those taking hand notes and typing seemed to remember the information similarly. Those taking hand notes exclusively had a greater understanding of the concepts in the lectures.

“Longhand note takers engage in more processing than laptop note takers, thus selecting more important information to include in their notes," Mueller concluded. The researchers also noted that there was a strong importance in not taking notes verbatim in the ability to recall and understand.

For those looking to blend the use of technology and writing, there are some items on the market to make that process easier. There are several tablets that allow you to use a stylus to input hand written notes on the screen as one would on paper. These devices have a substantial volume of storage for several digital notebooks, files, and loose papers.

One could also use what is called a smart notebook to download paper notes onto the computer. Such new technological innovations provide an easier way to organize your notes, however way you chose to write them.

If these technologies aren't appealing to you and you must take note while typing on your laptop, consider rewording the notes. Process the information past transcription and remember to look up to avoid distractions.