So when I saw this article (tweeted by Kelly Gallagher – a favorite of mine), I felt vindicated. The article summarizes new research that shows that writing notes helped college students learn material better than those that took notes on a computer. And this went beyond rote memorization. The researchers 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 used took notes with their laptops.”
“ Mueller and Oppenheimer postulate that taking notes by hand requires different types of cognitive processing than taking notes on a laptop, and these different processes have consequences for learning. Writing by hand is slower and more cumbersome than typing, and students cannot possibly write down every word in a lecture. Instead, they listen, digest, and summarize so that they can succinctly capture the essence of the information. Thus, taking notes by hand forces the brain to engage in some heavy “mental lifting,” and these efforts foster comprehension and retention. By contrast, when typing students can easily produce a written record of the lecture without processing its meaning, as faster typing speeds allow students to transcribe a lecture word for word without devoting much thought to the content.”
- In your staff meetings and teacher professional development, how many teachers are checking email and Facebook while you’re presenting information. How would engagement change if you told them to leave their laptops behind?
- In our age of pushing towards 1:1 device connectivity, should we stop and ask ourselves if we are using technology in the right way? Or are we just doing it to feel like we're doing something great?
- How many schools teach note-taking? The executive functioning skills of processing and synthesizing information to pick out the most important pieces could be a dramatic life skill that could improve outcomes for students as they move to high school and beyond.
What are your thoughts? Do you agree or disagree?
Update 3/17/15: Another great resources supporting handwriting: Pinkcast