By Mark Mascetti |Staff Writer|
Students who take notes on electronic devices during class learn less effectively compared to students who take notes the old fashioned way, researchers have found.
I agree that taking notes on paper is more effective based on my previous experiences and observations of other students in class.
In addition, I believe students who take notes electronically are more distracted.
A recent study published last week by a Princeton researcher, Pam Mueller, and a UCLA researcher, Daniel Oppenheimer, titled “The Pen is Mightier Than the Keyboard: Advantages of Longhand Over Laptop Note Taking” shows that taking notes on electronic devices is less effective.
“We found that participants using laptops were more inclined to take verbatim notes than participants who wrote longhand, thus hurting learning,” states the article.
The study was a combination of three different studies all aimed at the effectiveness of note taking electronically versus on paper.
In the first study, the researchers showed a series of TED Talks and had the participants take notes either electronically or by paper depending on the participants’ choice.
The participants then took a test that was aimed to see how much they remembered.
The results showed the participants who took notes on paper did better than the ones who took notes electronically.
The participants who took notes electronically took more notes verbatim and focused on the physical words being said in the presentation as compared to the content through active listening.
The second study was identical to the first study with additional instructions to avoid taking notes verbatim and in the students’ own words.
The results were nearly identical to the first study.
Students who took notes on electronic devices still wrote notes verbatim.
The third study had the participants take notes either electronically or on paper and leave.
The participants returned a week later and were given 10 minutes to study the notes before taking the same test.
Participants who took notes on paper again did more effectively on the test compared to those who took notes electronically.
One key factor that was not taken into consideration in this study is the distraction caused by features electronic devices have.
“One of the real troubling things about laptops and even smart phones now is that you’re always one tab away from Facebook, Instragram, ESPN, or TMZ,” said Thomas Corrigan, an assistant professor in CSUSB’s Department of Communication Studies.
“It’s not that you can’t be disciplined, it’s just that it is easy to stray,” Corrigan added.
Having taken notes on my laptop in the past, I found I was constantly being distracted with social media just a click away or other projects I could work on simultaneously.
While some students still may feel taking notes electronically is beneficial for them, one way to minimize distractions is to turn off their Wi-Fi and make a habit of not going on the Internet during class time.
In addition to the notetaker being distracted, other students could be distracted if the student’s electronic device is in view.
“I’ve seen people watch basketball games on their computers in class,” said student Max Singer.
“They should sit in the back if it’s something important to them. Then they aren’t distracting other students and they won’t get caught as easily.
It’s a win-win situation,” added Singer. If you are an electronic note taker, experiment and try taking notes on paper to see if that works better.
If not, implement strategies such as turning off Wi-Fi to minimize distractions or sit in the back so others aren’t distracted.
Stop taking notes electronically and go back to the basics, as it will help the learning process and not distract you or other students.