We live in an age of technology. Everywhere we turn, people are using cell phones, iPads, and laptops. My eighty-five-year-old grandmother uses an iPad to Skype with all her grandchildren and, of course, play the slots daily. Technology is everywhere and we can’t escape it. More often than not, when you look into a college classroom, you will see more computers being typed on than notes being taken on a piece of paper. Some may find this scary, but the reality is that our fingers can type much faster than our hands can scribble. Some may argue this is a good thing, others may argue it’s a bad thing. The question now becomes, is it better to type notes or physically hand write them? For all you computer typing note takers, this one is for you!
Only half of my college professors allow computers, but I truly never understood why. I mean let’s face it, I know for sure that I can type a lot quicker than I can write. Often, when trying to keep up with a professor’s lecture, my hand starts to cramp. However, as Andrew and a few other of my professors mentioned, there are scientific studies out there that prove that hand written notes lead to more academic success. Now, we must take into account that laptop note taking does have benefits. For example, students can engage in online polls their professors provide to the class as well as, quickly google a concept that is being lectured about that they might not understand. The reality is that after the student takes that poll, they may end up opening a new tab and surfing through their Facebook news feed. Laptops are distracting, For instance, the other day in one of my classes a student had the desire to watch the show “Friends” on Netflix. Some have the urgency to online shop. I’ve seen it all these past three weeks that I’ve been at University Park, but the reality is this happens at every college. A study was done with law school students. It found that “nearly 90% of laptop users engaged in online activities unrelated to coursework for at least five minutes, and roughly 60% were distracted for half the class”(A Learning). In addition, Professor Diane Siebert, from the University of Colorado found that, “students who used laptops in class averaged 11% worse on tests than those who took notes the “old-fashioned way” (Laptops). She also found that “students using laptops averaged a grade of 71%, “almost the same as the average for the students who didn’t come at all” (Laptops). We all know that laptops are distracting, so why are they still allowed in classrooms?
Let’s face it, some professors tend to talk pretty quickly and sometimes it’s hard to scribble down everything they are saying. However, that’s just it. When we write out our notes as opposed to typing them, we can’t write down every single possible thing that the professor is saying. So our brain works as a filter and makes us write down the most important stuff. Two highly educated researchers, Pam Mueller from Princeton University and Daniel Oppenheimer from The University of California at Los Angeles found just that. The pair did three experiments and for each study they made half the students take notes on a laptop while the other half took notes the old fashioned way with pen and paper. They found that, “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 took notes with their laptops”( A Learning). Also, writing by hand is a more strenuous process and that the brain must, “listen, digest, and summarize so that they can succinctly capture the essence of the information”( A Learning). Ultimately, the brain must do some, “mental lifting” which efforts foster comprehension and retention” (A Learning). The studies conducted at both UCLA, and Princeton found that whether the lecture was on bats, birds or economics, “students who used laptops had more verbatim transcription of the lecture material than those who wrote notes by hand” (A Learning). Therefore, “the high verbatim note content was associated with lower retention of the lecture material”(A Learning). If you think about it, this logically makes sense. Put yourself in the shoes a college student sitting in a lecture. If they are typing notes on their laptops, they are going to just type what the professor is saying as quickly as they can. However, while they are typing, they truly aren’t analyzing the information that their professor is saying, nor is the information in their own words.
The laptops should stay at home. After all, online shopping and Netflix can wait. Not only are laptops distracting, but research has proven that old fashion pen and paper helps student retain more information and learn more. So, keep your laptop at home, I promise it will be there when you get back. After all, not bringing it to class may even boost your grade!
“A Learning Secret: Don’t Take Notes with a Laptop.” Scientific American Global RSS.
N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Sept. 2015.
“Laptops May Be the Ultimate Classroom Distraction.” USA TODAY College. N.p., 08 Sept.
2012. Web. 17 Sept. 2015.
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