To Remember a Lecture Better, Take Notes by Hand

Robinson Meyer reporting at The Atlantic:

Psych 101 was about to start, and Pam Mueller had forgotten her laptop at home. This meant more than lost Facebook time. A psychology grad student at Princeton, Mueller was one of the class teaching assistants. It was important she have good notes on the lecture. Normally she used her laptop to take notes, but, without it, she’d have to rely on a more traditional approach.

So she put pen to paper—and found something surprising.

Class just seemed better. “I felt like I had gotten so much more out of the lecture that day,” she said. So she shared the story with Daniel Oppenheimer, the professor teaching the class.

“‘I had a similar experience in a faculty meeting the other day,’” Mueller remembers him saying. “And we both sort of had that intuition that there might be something different about writing stuff down.”

It turns out there is.

Again I see articles like this as the beginning of a growing trend of people who are realising how our digital world is affecting us and then deciding to go back to the ‘old ways’ of doing things.

Writing down anything by hand could be one of the most fundamental things that we as a civilisation start doing at an early age whether it’s drawing symbols in the sand, or letters on parchment or paper. To be in a day and age where you don’t ever have to write anything by hand majority of the time seems quite counter to that.

I’m not sure whether the results of studies like this are biased because the subjects in the study all started out writing by hand in the first place (you have to realise that ubiquitous touch-screen technology only came about in 2007) so returning to physically writing notes would create a positive result. What would be interesting is to discover how children exposed to this technology since young process information they hear and record down whether by writing or by typing.

Human brains are quite flexible after all so it’s difficult to know just on one study.

Read the rest of the article here.


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