Note-taking—is Writing by Hand Really Better?


Do you learn more/better if you take notes by hand? That is an interesting question in a world of computers and ipads. I guess the answer is individual , depending on your learning style? We often read about research backing the assumption that hand writing creates a better connection to the brain, resulting in a higher retention, depper learning?

One reason why handwriting might work better is the obvious one. When you are typing on a computer/ipad there are a lot of distractions. I guess we can all relate to when the “lecture” starts to get boring, we tend to click on something else. I’m sure there is reserch that shows how long a lecture can be before we start to think about something else or click on something of interest.

When I do school walkthroguhts I take notes using a pen. I feel that it is the best way to pay attention on what is going on in the classroom, and it is less evasive. But I do not use paper. I write on my iPad pro in a classonenote and when I leave the teacher can read my observations on their computer after class. The notes are shared with that teacher and me only, and if she/he can desifer my handwriting they can read it before we talk about it. To me that makes sense. Still curios about what works for students? Read the text below here found in the newsletter Cheery Friday Greetings to our Learning How to Learners!

Virtually anything we read nowadays about note-taking emphasizes the value and importance of writing notes out by hand. But is that really true? This fascinating research paper by Jansen et al, “An integrative review of the cognitive costs and benefits of note-taking,” points out that research on medical school students has found that typing on a laptop seems to work just as well as writing notes out longhand. The real trick in note-taking relates to understanding your working memory capacity. Strangely enough, those with low working memory capacity may do better by fully focusing on the lecture while it’s being given, and borrowing someone else’s notes for review purposes (those who review notes the same day the lecture is given fare best in their studies). This echoes a long-ago finding by Kiewra and DuBois along the lines that using others’ notes, while focusing intently yourself on the lecture, can allow you to do almost as well as taking the notes yourself.

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