Several college lecturers have recently started prohibiting laptop computers in their lectures. The original reason was fear that additional applications on the computer, such as social media networks for example, would distract the students. However, this step also led to a series of studies that showed the advantage of taking handwritten notes during a lecture instead of typing.
According to the studies, those who type their notes are essentially transcribing the lecture and therefore not actively thinking about it. In contrast, those who take handwritten notes cannot keep up with the speed of the lecturer’s speech, so they are forced to sift through the material and refine it, writing down only the most important points.
The study that compared the two groups showed that understanding of the lecture’s central elements was stronger among those who took handwritten notes, even minutes after the lecture ended. A memory test conducted a week later on all of the facts stated in the lecture again showed a clear advantage of those who had summarized by hand. Those who transcribed with their keyboard perhaps succeeded in writing everything down, but they may not have necessarily listened to everything that was said during the lecture.
The British newspaper Daily Telegraph reported in 2014 that a study involving 2,000 teachers and students in Great Britain revealed that the decrease in the quality of the students’ handwriting, who had become accustomed to expressing their ideas by pushing keys on a keyboard, significantly harms their ability to express themselves and even to earn the grades they could potentially achieve.
According to the British newspaper, 61% of the teachers believe that over the past five years, the quality of the students’ handwriting has decreased, and 64% of the teachers admitted that problematic handwriting causes them to give students a lower grade than what they might actually deserve.