Which is better for taking notes—a laptop or handwriting?

For ideas which stick in the brain, taking notes by hand is better, according to Princeton and UCLA researchers*.

Their results are summarized in the chart below.

laptop longhand
word-for-word note taking  x
keeping up with lecturer  x
focusing on concepts x
recalling facts x x
remembering information longer x
using notes for review  x

The researchers say that even though taking notes in longhand is slower, this mode forces students to summarize the gist of the ideas presented.  To do that, the note takers must analyze what they are hearing as they are hearing it, evaluate  what is important and relate various ideas to one another.  Often as they take notes, they organize their notes, making them useful for further study.

The computer note takers, on the other hand, type almost every word but spend less time thinking about the lecture.  Their notes are copious but not digested, making them unweildly for study.

*For more information, go to http://www.psychologicalscience.org/index.php/news/releases/take-notes-by-hand-for-better-long-term-comprehension.html.  There the work of psychologist Dr. Pam A. Mueller of Princeton University and Dr. Daniel Oppenheimer of UCLA can be read in Psychological Science, the journal of the Association for Psychological Science.  Their experiment was reported in 2014 after being conducted on college students.

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