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This is a bite-size research episode, where we briefly describe research findings on a specific topic. This week, Megan talks about research findings showing that taking notes with a laptop in class can lead to less learning than taking notes by hand.
The research paper, published by Mueller and Oppenheimer (2014), reports 3 experiments examining learning after taking notes by hand or taking notes on laptop computers. Importantly, the laptop computers were disconnected from the internet, and only allowed the students to take notes on them eliminating distraction. Even still, taking notes by hand led to more learning across all three studies. The researchers found that students tended to type a lot more when they took notes on the computer compared to what they could write while taking notes by hand. Typing out a transcription of the material is likely what is causing less learning; when students take notes by hand, they often cannot write everything and must put the material into their own words. However, even when the students in the experiment were instructed not to transcribe the material while taking notes, and were asked to put the material into their own words, they still typed a lot more while taking notes on the laptop than when taking notes by hand. Even with this instruction, performance on an assessment later was better when the students took notes by hand.
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.