Students should take handwritten notes to better comprehend content (Opinion)

By Ronit Kumar

The Wildcat Tribune (San Ramon, California)

In middle school, I often wondered why many teachers required me to take handwritten notes while other students received printed notes. I complained about the extra time it took to produce handwritten notes than simply typing them up. However, I have come to realize that handwritten notes actually help me perform better on exams.

Students are constantly burdened with carrying around a large number of notebooks filled with precious notes from lectures. To solve this problem, many colleges and high schools have begun to provide students with computers as a more efficient method of taking notes. But, both computers and notebooks have their advantages and disadvantages: while typing notes on a computer allows a student to record more content, handwritten notes help a student remember information for a longer period of time than typed notes. The purpose of writing notes is to extract only the main ideas of a lecture. Thus even though handwriting notes is a slower process, it will eventually benefit students in the long run.

Handwritten notes help students comprehend concepts at a faster rate than students using computers to take notes. A psychological science study from UCLA tested how using a notebook or computer impacts a student’s learning. In this study, college students were shown TED talks with half of the students typed their notes and the other half had handwritten notes. After the TED talks, the students were asked various questions to test their comprehension. For factual questions such as dates, both groups performed equally well. However, in the analytical application questions, the group who used notebooks did significantly better. This shows that writing notes impacts a student’s learning by helping to truly comprehend the concepts.

“I firmly believe that taking notes by hand is better because I think about the information more. On a computer, I completely lose the words,” claimed  AVID teacher Ann-Marie Walters.

In addition, taking notes on a computer negatively impacts a student’s concentration. Students who use computers for taking notes only spend 60 percent of their time focusing. The other 40 percent, they are distracted by the internet, especially social media.

Taking notes by hand may time far more time and effort than notes on a computer, but it definitely benefits students in the long run.

Therefore, I suggest students take handwritten notes in order to succeed.

Photo Credit: Toshiyuki IMAI

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