Handwriting is better for Learning than Typing

A study has found that taking notes on a laptop can be detrimental to a student’s learning, as opposed to using the traditional methods of paper and pen.

In our technologically superior world, the idea of using biro is borderline repulsive to some and the scrawl I call my own handwriting is testament to the fact that the age of handwriting is dying a slow death. Keyboard typing is faster, neater, and much more convenient.

However, an American study tested how the two forms of writing affect our ability to learn. By sitting two classes of students in front of the same lecture and giving one class laptops to take notes on, and one notebooks, they found that the notebook class performed better in terms of ‘conceptual learning’ when tested on the lecture half an hour after watching it.

Although they found that taking notes on a computer reduces our conceptual learning, factual recall was unaffected. What this means is that no matter which method was used, the students recalled facts equally as well (King Henry VIII was born in 1491) but those using laptops had more trouble answering with conceptual ideas (explain how Scotland would benefit from becoming an independent country.)

This is likely down to people being able to type verbatim to what the lecturer or teacher is saying, and so they are not considering or reforming the words that they commit to paper (or screen).

In exam season, this could be ever crucial to getting those last bits of information into your brain, so put down the laptop and blow the dust off your old notebooks.