Should You Use Your Laptop or Own Handwriting When Jotting Down Notes?

With today’s technology, it is easier to record the lecture during classes. They can use their smartphones, for instance, to record the presentation of the lecturer. In universities, it is common to see students bringing out their laptops to type what the teacher is saying.

And before proceeding, whether they are making their study notes digitally or by longhand, they can sell university notes to file-sharing websites and earn money in turn. Every time somebody downloads their material, they earn a maximum of 60% of the proceeds. It can become a passive income as they will only wait for the money to be deposited into their accounts.

Then again, you have students with the traditional pen and paper to jot down notes. But which one is more effective: the laptop or pen?

Based on the research of the Association for Psychological Science, students who write the lecture by longhand has a better chance of absorbing the lesson compared to their laptop-wielding counterparts.

Sixty-seven students from Princeton University participated in the survey conducted by Pam A. Mueller (Princeton) and Daniel M. Oppenheimer (University of California). The results were interesting. Students who use laptops reverted to the “non-generative” method when taking down notes. Essentially, they can copy the oral lecture almost verbatim since they can type faster.

In comparison, students who write by longhand had to revert to the “generative” way of taking down notes. Since they could not catch up with the instruction, they had to summarise and clip out some of the words. As a result, their brains had to work extra hard to process the information before recording it on their notebooks.

Tips to Improve Your Note-Taking

Admittedly, taking down notes by longhand takes a lot of practice. But you can follow these tips to be more effective:

  1. Highlight the keywords — You could not possibly keep up with the lecturer when you rely on your pen and notebook. Instead, jot down the big words, ideas, thoughts, and subjects. Some students write abbreviations and event symbols to speed up their pace.
  2. Organise your notes — Divide the page by columns then write the sub-topics under the main topic. Another way to do it is through bullet points with the main topic at the top and the sub-topics underneath.
  3. Go back to your notes — Since you are writing very fast, chances are, you are taking shortcuts and not using your regular penmanship. Before you forget the subject matter, it is crucial that you go back to your notes. Transfer them to a fresh page, if necessary. As an added bonus, you can sell university notes better if the words are legible. It is one of the standard criteria for the study notes to be accepted.

Ultimately, you should use the method that you are comfortable with. The research study does make an excellent argument on the value of handwriting the notes rather than using a laptop in class. Nevertheless, if you feel that you can follow the lessons better by using a digital tool, then, by all means, continue to do so.  After all, the main purpose is to pass the subject and earn high marks.

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Ellen Hollington is a freelance writer who offers to ghostwrite, copywriting and blogging services. She works closely with B2C and B2B businesses providing digital marketing content that gains social media attention and increases their search engine visibility.

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