Luddites, Unite! Handwriting Beats Laptop Note-Taking for Comprehension, Retention
Recent studies, according to a story in today’s Wall Street Journal, reveal that students who take handwritten notes in class comprehend more and retain more than those who take notes on laptops or other devices.
This despite the fact that hand note-takers can, on average, write 22 words a minute, compared to 33 words a minute for lap-takers. Even with more notes, then, those who rely on technology generally fare a bit worse in comprehension and retention of information.
“The very feature that makes laptop note-taking so appealing — the ability to take note more quickly — was what undermined learning,” observed educational psychologist Kenneth Kiewra of the University of Nebraska in Lincoln.
To be honest, though, the laptop note-takers had better install recall when quizzed right after taking their notes, according to a Washington University (St. Louis) study in 2012, but after 24 hours and more, the hand note-takers excelled.
The key seems to be that taking notes by hand also forces the note-taker to think about what he or she is scribbling down. Laptop noting is more like rote work.
At any rate, the article — “The Power of Handwriting” — is well worth a read.
Problem is, though I hyperlinked the article, WSJ often truncates direct links. But here’s a trick: type the title of the article into a Google search and you’ll be granted access to the full article.
(I just checked, and the online WSJ edition uses a different headline, so you’ll need to search for that: “Can Handwriting Make You Smarter.”