From harvesting crops to transmitting communications to traveling and more, technological innovation has the ability to improve upon the speed with which we do things. But in education, being fast has its costs. Carol E. Holstead, an Associate Professor of Journalism at the University of Kansas, has just published a piece in The Chronicle of Higher Education describing the results of a year-long experiment she conducted in her classes. Holstead banned students from using a laptop and instead required manual note taking. The effect of that ban? Test scores have improved and student surveys identify deeper learning after figuring out how to take notes by hand.
Holstead’s experiment–and other, more scientific research (here, for instance)–supports moving away from computers for note taking. Transcribing by hand provides a deeper learning experience, making for longer term retention of the material and improved comprehension. A key reason? According to the research, when you take notes by hand it is impossible to transcribe word-for-word. Rather, you have to pay close attention and distill the key points, restating them in your own words. This process is what transforms you from a passive to an active learner, a learner that doesn’t just parrot back the lecture but actually understands the concepts behind the words.
Read the article here and next time you head to class, consider taking the long way–for note taking.
Want to give manual note-taking a try but need to learn how? Visit a HEOP tutor AND check out our own note taking tips study guide!