It’s better to take notes by hand, experts say

Note taking by hand is more effective than computer note taking. Photo Submitted by Shadell Bromell

Contrary to the advancement of technology in society, research shows that note taking by hand is more effective for students’ long-term comprehension.

Although technology is a big factor in our everyday life, the typing of a keyboard is nothing compared to the pressing of a pen on paper. Computer note-taking may be harming college students’ academic performance, according to experts.

In recent studies published in the Psychological Science journal, it is proven students who took notes on laptops performed worse on conceptual questions than students who took notes longhand. In the first study, students were instructed to use their normal note-taking strategy and given TED talk lectures on a projector. Next, they were to complete two distractor tasks. Finally, students were asked conceptual-application questions. Laptop note-takers showed low conceptual performance, on the other hand, longhand note-takers showed a higher conceptual performance.

“I use paper and pencil because it helps me remember,” said Alyssa Jones, a senior pre-occupational therapy student from Fort Lauderdale.

Jones said although her classes are online she still uses paper and pen as her form of note-taking. The pattern of seeing and hearing information while jotting it down helps her learning process. This makes referring back to her notes an easy task.

“Most of the time I study the week of an exam because my notes help me refresh my memory,” she said.

Longhand note-taking students tend to write fewer words than those who take their notes on a laptop. This is suggesting that the benefit of having more content is canceled out by “mindless transcription,” according to Take Notes by Hand for Better Long-Term Comprehension.

Longhand note-taking can be used in different ways. A very effective way of note-taking can be color-coordinating.

“Separating ‘branches of your map by color stimulates the creative side of your brain,” according to How Color-Coordinate Quotes Make You a More Effective Thinker, it “helps you visually separate and recall distinct themes of the stuff you’re working through, and encourages you to map through even boring topics that seem cut-and-dried.”

Tiyana Mintl, a sophomore economics student from West Palm Beach, said some helpful advice to a struggling student would be to color-coordinate.“I’m a visual learner,” Mintl said, “ so being able to see the different colors helps me remember.”

The scholar only color coordinates the important information in a lecture. She says this helps her identify key words and facts for tests.