The digital age has surely dawned on us. With the advancements of technology, almost everything has become more convenient, faster, or automatic. Almost everything can be done with just a click of a button. Since we have become so used to the idea of things being advanced, digital, or digitized, this question is now often raised: In this highly technological world, is there still space for things to be done manually?
For example, schoolwork has become so much easier, thanks to technology – thanks to computers and laptops. However, when it comes to taking down notes, which works better? The old-school writing down with pen and paper, or the use of computers?
Perks and drawbacks of taking down notes with computers
In this modern world, the intuitive answer would easily be to use keyboards instead of pens and notebooks. We do almost everything on computers anyways, and we have become so used to typing that we can take notes much more quickly than writing them down. The drawback of typing away, though, is that it somehow loses one’s personal touch when it comes to taking down notes. When you write down your notes, you can easily do certain illustrations, arrows, and connections, and add emphasis via encircling or writing one larger than the other. This can take quite some time to edit and lay out when it comes to typing it on the computer.
Moreover, one research found that manual note-taking also results in more retention compared to using a keyboard.
“The pen is mightier than the keyboard.”
“The pen is mightier than the keyboard: Advantages of longhand over laptop note-taking” is the title of the research conducted by Prof. Daniel Oppenheimer, of the University of California, Los Angeles, and Pam Mueller, a graduate student at Princeton University. The research aimed to study the repercussions of students’ note-taking preferences and the effects those preferences had on students’ academic performance.
In a series of tests, students were given either a pen and paper or a laptop for note-taking. Then, they took an exam to test how well they had grasped the concepts and facts that the students had just written down or typed. The students were given the choice of taking notes how they would normally do it in class. The exam was given 30 minutes after.
Not so surprisingly, the results of the study showed that students took notes more mindlessly when using computers than when writing out their notes longhand. Even though those who took notes using their laptops took almost double the time of those who used pen and paper, their exam scores were much lower in the conceptual section of the exam. On the factual section, though, the scores of both groups were close.
In conclusion, while typing down notes seems to achieve more quantitatively in terms of time, notes are taken down more mindlessly. Therefore, the retention or benefit is lower compared to taking down notes the old-school way via pen and paper.
Now you know what to do the next time you take down notes. Good luck!
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