They’re at it again, those folk who quibble over which is more effective – typing/tapping or handwriting.
Academics at Princeton University in New Jersey and the University of California in the US, have collaborated on new studies that suggest that taking notes longhand appears to focus classroom attention and boost learning in a way that typing notes on a keyboard does not.
Those of us who write out each letter tend to order our thoughts more cohesively and to retain information more comprehensively. We’re also able to take in new ideas more quickly to assemble a logical chain of thought.
The new study was based on the premise that recording information is a complex process involving auditory ability with the ability to decode information in your mind and set it down on paper.
The study also observed that it’s only now in the digital age that researchers have started comparing note-taking strategies. The 21st century classroom or lecture hall can be characterised by the sound of keyboard clattering and smartphone clicking.
While those who take notes on digital devices can capture about 33 words a minute, hand writers can catch 22. In 2012, researchers at Washington University in St Louis, found that
laptop note-takers tested immediately after a class could recall
more of a lecture than could their peers with pens.
However, after an average of 24 hours, typists had typically
forgotten most of the content they had captured. In addition, notes transcribed via laptop were superficial and disjointed. In
contrast, those who wrote by hand were able to explain concepts in detail even a week after a lecture. Researchers concluded that
the process of taking notes encoded the information more deeply in memory.
Said the lead researcher, the problem is a typist’s tendency to
take verbatim notes. “Ironically, the very feature that makes laptop note-taking so appealing – the ability to take notes more
quickly – was what undermined learning,” said the report.
In either case, researchers have found that students generally
take down only a third or so of the information presented. Moreover, in their haste to keep up with the spoken word, people omit important qualifiers, fail to record context and skip key details.
Category: Winter 2016