Time to dust off the humble pen and paper – taking notes by hand is better for your memory!

Sometimes going analogue is the only way to go by Tobias Vemmenby (CC BY 2.0)
Sometimes going analogue is the only way to go by Tobias Vemmenby (CC BY 2.0)

Research recently published in Psychological Science * has found that students who took notes by hand,  as opposed to a laptop, performed better when asked questions about the factual content and concepts they had been taught.

Students watched a TED talk in a lecture environment and then took notes the way they normally would – some on a laptop and others with a paper and pen. Those using a laptop wrote more but when quizzed 30 minutes later they had understood less than those who took notes by hand. Those taking notes by hand also out-performed the others in both factual recall and concept understanding a full week later when quizzed on the topic again!

So taking notes by hand appears to encourage both more concise note-taking and encourage conceptual processing of the information at the time to assist you to understand and recall the information – in both the short and long-term.

With exams coming up, now might be the time to make a switch and try some old-fashioned pencraft.

* QUT students and staff can access the full text here:  Mueller, P. A., & Oppenheimer, D. M. (2014). The pen is mightier than the keyboard: Advantages of longhand over laptop note taking. Psychological Science, 25, 1159-1168. doi: 10.1177/0956797614524581

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