Thursday, June 5, 2014

More isn't necessarily better: Longhand note taking leads to better retention than laptop note taking.

Obviously it is advantageous to draft more complete notes that precisely capture the course content and allow for a verbatim review of the material at a later date.  Only it isn’t.  New research by Pam Mueller [Princeton] and Daniel Oppenheimer [UCLA] demonstrates that students who write out their notes on paper actually learn more [The Pen Is Mightier Than the Keyboard: Advantages of Longhand Over Laptop Note Taking]. 

Across three experiments, Mueller and Oppenheimer had students take notes in a classroom setting and then tested students on their memory for factual detail, their conceptual understanding of the material, and their ability to synthesize and generalize the information.  Half of the students were instructed to take notes with a laptop, and the other half were instructed to write the notes out by hand.  As in other studies, students who used laptops took more notes. 

In each study, however, those who wrote out their notes by hand had a stronger conceptual understanding and were more successful in applying and integrating the material than those who used took notes with their laptops.

Article here. (via taxprof blog)

Personal note: I was a longhand note taker in almost every class. I think the one exception to that was Pre-Trial Skills class. And the same thing held true for when I crammed for the bar exam. My method was to take notes in class, and then later condense the notes to flash cards before the exam, and sometimes a spreadsheet/outline. My lucky husband sometimes helped me review by quizzing me on what was on the cards.

And I know that the times where I tried to get every piece of information on a flash card -- which was when I crammed during bar prep for a topic I never took as a class (like No-Fault Insurance)-- or for weeks that I missed class or totally didn't get part of the topic -- I couldn't remember what was on the darned cards. The flash cards I did the best at remembering were one and two sentence cards, where I had previously digested the material via notes taken from class.

No comments:

Post a Comment