Study finds taking notes by hand leads to higher retention

April 1, 2014

A new study by researchers at the University of California at Los Angeles and Princeton University suggests that writing notes by hand on paper leads to better academic performance than typing notes. Daniel M Oppenheimer and Pam Mueller compared 2 groups of students by providing them with either a pen and paper, or a laptop with which to take notes on a lecture, telling them to use the method they’re used to, and testing them 30 minutes later. While laptop users took almost twice the amount of notes as those writing notes by hand, they scored significantly lower in the conceptual part of the test; both groups had similar scores on the factual test. In another part of the study, participants were asked not to simply take notes verbatim, by “mindlessly transcribing content.” Students who used laptops in this portion of the test received lower scores in both conceptual and factual tests than did those who were writing out their notes. Chronicle of Higher Education