Students typing notes in class pay no attention to the meaning of what is said, researchers determined.
We are all just so busy these days. There is just so much going on in our lives, so many things to do in so few hours, and we all have so much going on in our heads that we need something to organize our thoughts, plans, meetings and deadlines.
Thankfully, there are truly countless numbers of mobile phone applications that can help you keep track of what’s going on in your life. These note-taking apps can not only record your plans, thoughts and reminders, they can organize them so that you can retrieve them with the typing or speaking of just one word.
However, what they CANNOT do is help you if you happen to be a student trying to keep track of what your teacher or professor is telling you in class.
Over the past 12 months, multiple studies have been conducted on the value of classroom note-taking electronically vs. note-taking using pen and paper. The overwhelming result of the studies is that information retention is best performed when the student takes notes by writing them down, rather than recording lectures or typing notes into a laptop computer, tablet or mobile phone.
In the spring of 2014, researchers at Princeton and UCLA performed three different studies on classroom note-taking and discovered that students who took notes electronically had greater difficulty answering conceptual questions related to the information they took notes on.
The reason: laptop note-takers often just transcribe lectures rather than listening to what is being said, determining that which is important to hold on to and writing that information down in a paper notebook.
The Princeton-UCLA researchers noted that longhand note-takers wrote down less information than laptop users but scored just as well on factual questions and much better on conceptual questions. The theory related to that information is that longhand note-takers spend more time thinking about what is being said than those typing every word being spoken. Typing note-takers had “shallower’’ learning from their exercise, the researchers stated.
In a second experiment, students using laptops were told specifically NOT to take down what they heard word-for-word. Many simply could not stop themselves. They typed precisely what was said and still did not score as well as those students taking notes longhand.
A third experiment occurred one week after notes were taken. Students were allowed to study their notes before answering questions from the lecture one week earlier, and those with longhand notes did much better than students reviewing their typed notes.
There are other concerns among educators related to note-taking on laptops. Distractions from email notifications or unrelated website visits detract from learning.
What does it all mean?
“Ultimately, the take-home message is that people should be more aware of how they are choosing to take notes, both in terms of the medium and the strategy,” said Princeton researcher and psychological scientist Pam Mueller.
Kent McDill is a staff writer for Millionaire Corner. McDill spent 30 years as a sports writer, working for United Press International and the Daily Herald of Arlington Heights, Ill. From 1988-1999, he covered the Chicago Bulls for the Daily Herald, traveling with them every day through the nine-month season. He also covered the Bulls for UPI from 1985-88, and currently covers the team for www.nba.com. He has written two books on the Bulls, including the new title “100 Things Bulls Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die’, published by Triumph Books. In August 2013, his new book “100 Things Bears Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die” gets published.
In 2008, he resigned from the Herald and became a freelance writer. The Herald hired him to write business features and speeches for the Daily Herald Business Conferences and Awards presentations.
McDill also writes a monthly parenting column for the Herald’s Suburban Parent magazine.
McDill is the father of four children, and an active fan of soccer, Jimmy Buffett and all things Disney.