Science Proves Cursive Notes are Better!
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Did you know that science has proven cursive note taking to be a more effective practice? It’s Longhand over Laptop baby! Here’s an example of how science helps us identify what really works better when studying! Read this and share it with your child.
Summary: The Research that Proves It
If you believe your child should be a cursive writer – now you will know why this is a good idea from the science perspective. It’s more effective.
Three experiments compared the effectiveness of writing out classroom notes longhand with typing them on a laptop. In this famous study, two researchers, Pam Mueller of Princeton and Daniel Oppenheimer of UCLA had groups of students — sample sizes ranged from 67 to 151 — watch video lectures in a simulated classroom environment, divided into 2 groups – one taking notes longhand and the other with a laptop. Afterward, the students performed a series of memory and cognitive tests. What happened?
What they found:
- In the first experiment, on conceptual-application questions, the laptop users performed significantly worse. The benefits of taking more notes when using a laptop was seemingly outweighed by the propensity to “mindlessly transcribe.” Transcription, without thinking deeply about the material, does not further understanding.
- In the second experiment, the laptop participants were asked not to transcribe the lecture, but despite this, they tended to do so anyway. The laptop seems to tempt students to write down verbatim phrases with less cognitive processing.
- This study is most revealing. In the third experiment, students were tested a week after the lecture. Did the more extensive notes of the laptop users help when reviewing for a test? This was not the case. When students were allowed to review their notes for 10 minutes in advance of the test, those who took longhand notes performed better on both factual and conceptual questions than the laptop users.
Why is it better?
There are three explanations the researchers developed to explain this.
- The “encoding hypothesis”- suggests that processing during the act of note-taking improves learning and retention over digital transcription.
- Note-taking that is generative — which means summarizing or paraphrasing — is generally seen to indicate a greater level of cognitive processing than taking verbatim notes.
- The “external storage” hypothesis — that the greater quantity of notes taken by laptop users should help in review is not validated. Longhand notes have superior external storage.
We remember information better when we have to cognitively process it.
Wow! Now you know.
Citation: A 2014 paper published in Psychological Science, “The Pen Is Mightier Than the Keyboard: Advantages of Longhand Over Laptop Note Taking.”
- Why are cursive longhand notes better for learning and remembering?
- Why is taking notes in class with a laptop a less efficient learning practice?