The students have become accustomed to keyboards instead of pencils, and British teachers confess: They have such a hard time writing that they run out of time to think.
Technology and computers have improved many of man’s capabilities: they have exposed us to much more information, taught us a thing or two about division of concentration and, to a great extent, have also altered our ability to read short texts quickly. But as the years go by, we are gradually discovering how they are causing us to lose other skills.
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.
In answers written by students in exams or assignments, more than a third of the teachers found “emoticons” – smiley faces prevalent in SMS messages and internet communications. The study also found that many students suffer from blisters and painful hands after having to write for an extended period of time, since their hand is not accustomed to it.
In Great Britain, these results aroused concern, since messy handwriting has a direct impact on the student’s ability to show their capabilities on exams. The Telegraph mentions that according to previous studies, students who need to invest great effort to write words on the page need to dedicate greater neurological activity to the technical act of writing the words, and this interferes with their ability to create new ideas, notice their vocabulary or plan their answer. The British government is developing a program to encourage handwriting among younger children, including lessons in properly holding a pencil. (YNET 2014)
Need to Summarize a Lecture? A Pen or Pencil Will Help You Much More Than a Keyboard
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.