Friday, April 03, 2015

Should Students Take Notes on Laptops?

I came across this article yesterday which shares research that indicates that college students who take their class notes on laptops fare worse in retention and application of knowledge than those who take notes by hand. Since this study was with college students, we are left to think through whether this same issue applies in high schools and middle schools, but the findings are worth considering.

Still, I was left with several thoughts:
  • This research and the article makes a blanket statement about how handwritten note taking helps students. It does not account for any individual differences in learners.
  • The article focuses on distractions as the key reason for learning differences with laptops. But is that true? Are distractions the key issue? Or are there other problems that result from being in front of a screen so long that contribute to this learning gap from the two note taking methods?
  • If it is true that distractions are the key reason for the learning gap, is the answer simply to return to handwritten notes? Or do we as educators need to do a better job in being intentional about helping our students manage distractions, and then modeling this management ourselves?
What are your thoughts? Do you think this research has validity? What have you noticed with note taking in your classroom?

1 comment:

  1. That is an interesting thought. Notes are essential but is that the best way for students to retain and manage their knowledge? I personally don't know. Note taking as a skill should be more important than the medium but it seems to not be the case. However, I also think that students each learn and note differently and as such should find what fits their needs best and what works for them. Hard question though, especially based on the research you've found.