Why Taking Notes By Hand is Better​

These days, many students use a device like an iPad or laptop to take notes. But recent research shows that writing notes by hand actually increases retention and allows for deeper understanding of the material being studied.


This Scientific American article explains that although students can often type faster than they can write, this doesn't lead to better note taking. Students who take notes on a laptop end up writing notes verbatim, especially during a lecture. But they aren't processing the material in the same way as students who take longhand notes.


The article says,


"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."


As a tutor, I often find that students who study by taking their own notes (rather than reading someone else's notes, even the teacher's) remember information better. Creating note cards or study sheets is an excellent way to study for a test, especially for visual and tactile learners.


Further, I've found that reduced screen time is most always better. Students who work on a laptop, computer, or other device often find too many distractions in games and social media that detract from their studying and learning time. This can be a struggle these days, because many teachers post assignments online.


Even so, I encourage my students to learn the old school way — with books, papers, pens, and pencils — as much as possible. There's a time and place for technology, but generally it is more of a hindrance than a help when learning material that requires deep processing.


If note-taking skills are something you'd like your child to improve, please let me know; I'd be happy to provide tips and tricks.


Tags: note-taking