Whether we like it or not, we are using technology more and more for everyday tasks. All of our assignments are handed in online, we order food online, we even pay our bills online. Everything that used to be done with pen and paper is now being done on a computer. Most recently, I found out that my old high school gave a laptop out to each student. The students have to use the laptop for all their work, including taking notes. I personally don’t know how I would get through high school if I had to do that because I prefer to write by hand. This made me wonder what the reason behind giving out laptops was. Do they think that using laptops will improve the students’ scores or do they just want to be more modern?
I decided to research whether or not it’s proven that one method is better than the other, and I stumbled upon this article. According to Pam Mueller of Princeton and Dan Oppenheimer of UCLA, students taking notes by hand are more successful in retaining information. In their study, they had college students (trials ranged from 67-151 students) watch a TED talk and take notes while they were viewing. They found that the students who were using laptops wrote almost word for word what was being said, simply because people type faster than they write. Since the students using pen and paper were writing slower, they had a better understanding of the material because they had to be more selective with what they wrote down. Afterwards, the students were asked questions about the speech, and the students writing by hand performed much better. The study showed that there was a negative correlation between the amount of words written and amount of questions answered correctly. Even after being told not to write verbatim in a second trial, many students using laptops could not resist and performed worse again. In the third and final trial, Mueller and Oppenheimer gave the students time in-between the speech and the questions to review their notes. Once again, pen and paper won. It comes down to the fact that it’s easier to type, so you’re not comprehending what you’re hearing, you’re just writing. When you write by hand you’re subconsciously thinking about the material as you write it, because you have to pay attention to everything that’s being said in order choose the most important points.
Based on this experiment, it’s fair to say that writing by hand is more affective than typing on a laptop. I guess my old high school just wants to be technologically up to date, and didn’t bother looking into what was in the students’ best interest.