A study entitled The pen is mightier than the keyboard: Advantages of longhand over laptop note taking (Mueller & Oppenheimer, 2014) compared the two methods in different experiments. Findings suggest that when tested for factual recall, student performance was about the same for both note-taking methods; however, students who took handwritten notes fared better when tested for conceptual learning.
I teach a course called Academic English Seminar. The course (3 credits in 39 hours over 13 days every August) is an academic skills course for incoming undergraduate students who speak English as a second language. The course is intended to support students’ transition from high school or CEGEP learning to university learning. This year, I asked students to read the Mueller & Oppenheimer study. (We used this article in order to practice strategic reading of journal articles.) Some were surprised by the study results. Some even vowed to stick to taking notes by hand.
Interestingly, one student who took my course emailed me three days into this term to say that the professor of his Organizational Behaviour course in Management had read the study and now will not allow students in his class to take laptop notes.
Do you teach? If you do, take a look at the study (or at an online summary of the study entitled Ink on Paper: Some Notes on Note Taking. Would you encourage your students to take handwritten notes? Why might you not encourage them to take handwritten notes?
Mueller, P. A., & Oppenheimer, D. M. (2014). The pen is mightier than the keyboard: Advantages of longhand over laptop note taking. Psychological Science, 25(6), 1-10. DOI: 10.1177/0956797614524581
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Associate Director, Faculty and Teaching Development, and Senior Academic Associate, at McGill's Teaching and Learning Services; former Senior Faculty Lecturer at the McGill Writing Centre; area of specialization: Second Language Education; loves teaching and learning!
(Photo credit: Owen Egan)