From laptops to tablets, technology is taking over classrooms. Elementary schools offer kids tablets, and college students are bringing laptops into lecture halls, leaving their notebooks behind. Today, many students prefer putting their fingers to a keyboard rather than pen to paper, but are these helpful devices truly beneficial?
A study conducted by Pam Mueller and Daniel Oppenheimer examined how utilizing technology impacts learning. The two researchers pitted laptop users against handwritten notetakers, testing how the methods affected student behavior within the classroom.
Mueller and Oppenheimer discovered that laptop users had an advantage when it came to speed. When students used their laptops to take notes, their quick typing led to more extensive and detailed notes than those taken by their pen-and-paper peers. However, the notes typed out by the laptop users were verbatim. Because typing is more efficient and requires less concentration, the students with laptops mindlessly typed out every word said, regardless of importance. As a result, these students couldn't recall the information from their notes—leading them to score poorly when tested.
Though students who used pens and paper took considerably fewer notes than their tech-friendly classmates, they gained a significant advantage. Overwhelmingly, those who wrote notes by hand scored better on tests, proving superior fact retention and greater understanding of difficult concepts. Despite the sheer volume of notes taken by laptop users, handwritten notes proved more valuable.
So, what does this mean for technology? It appears that using a laptop in class hampers students' learning and classroom performance. If you're someone who uses technology to take notes, consider leaving your laptop behind when you head to class. Not only will you focus on the material more, but you will also improve your information retention.
For now, it seems sticking to pen and paper still reigns as the most effective note-taking method—even if it does smear your hand with ink while you write. So, keep your brain actively engaged by writing important information down the "old fashioned" way.