The Pen is Mightier than the Keyboard

study-notepadVstypingHow do you take notes these days? Can you type faster than you can write with pen and paper? If you’re using your laptop to type notes during lectures or meetings, you may want to rethink that practice. The Chronicle of Higher Education (http://chronicle.com/blogs/wiredcampus/taking-notes-by-hand-benefits-recall-researchers-find/51411) recently reported on a new study of note taking practices. This study shows that students have a much higher rate of knowledge retention and comprehension when handwriting notes rather than typing.

“When I type notes, I find that I’m not really listening and comprehending the information. It seems it goes in one ear and out the other while transcribing what the speaker is saying,” said Adam Voyton, Instructional Technology Project Specialist at Wilmington University’s Educational Technology Department.

There’s a scientific basis for Voyton’s impression. An experiment conducted by Jean-Luc Velay at the University of Marseille (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110119095458.htm) demonstrated that the brain uses different areas when writing longhand as opposed to typing. Writing by hand engages the sensorimotor memory part of our brain that helps us recognize letters.

The report in the Chronicle of Higher Education states that even though note taking on a computer results in more detailed transcribed notes, long hand note takers have more conceptual understanding of the material, and in some cases, even more factual recall.

But fans of technology shouldn’t despair. Instead of a pencil, why not break out a stylus pen and take notes on a tablet? You’ll have the best of both worlds – the advantage of notes taken electronically combined with the higher brain retentive action of long hand writing.