Taking Notes By Hand is More Effective Than By Laptop


A recent study conducted by UCLA researchers Daniel Oppenheimer and Pam Mueller found that traditional handwritten notes are far more effective than notes taken on a laptop or other electronic device. In their experiment, students took notes by hand or on a laptop while watching a video lecture. They were then quizzed, “either after 30 minutes of difficult problem solving or a week’s time”. The students who took notes by hand outperformed those who took notes on a laptop. The researchers believe that the desire to write down the lecture word-for-word without analyzing the content is what led laptop note takers astray.

To many people, a laptop is the clear choice of note-taking device because it allows them to take down more of what the speaker is saying. But according to UCLA researchers Oppenheimer and Mueller, the temptation to capture everything we’re listening to might actually be the biggest issue with typed notation.

“We don’t write longhand as fast as we type these days, but people who were typing just tended to transcribe large parts of lecture content verbatim,” Mueller tells The Atlantic’s Robinson Meyer. “The people who were taking notes on the laptops don’t have to be judicious in what they write down.”

In other words: Transcribing on a laptop in real-time may lead to verbatim notes, but doing so means you spend less time processing the lecture, and more time focusing on typing.

Read the full article here and let us know if you agree or disagree.


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