Education

Your Lousy Handwriting Might Actually Make You Smarter

Your Lousy Handwriting Might Actually Make You Smarter
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If you prefer taking handwritten notes over typing on a laptop, take heart: you’re much more likely to learn better than your MacBook-prone counterparts.

New studies by researchers at Princeton University and UCLA have reinforced this by showing that students who took notes by hand in class generally outperformed students who typed their notes via computer, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Those who wrote out their notes in longhand, the Journal reported, seemed to learn better, retained information longer, and more readily grasped new idea. While theJournal doesn’t quote the publishing journal for the new studies, a previous study by both institutions in 2014 showed that those who took notes with a computer performed much worse on answering conceptual questions than those who hand-wrote.

“Our new findings suggest that even when laptops are used as intended -- and not for buying things on Amazon during class -- they may still be harming academic performance,” psychological scientist Pam Mueller of Princeton University, a lead author of the study, told the Association for Psychological Science in 2014.

Part of the reason for the disparity is that those who took notes by hand could rephrase what they heard into their own words, and appeared to digest and think through the material in a more engaged way. Those who took notes by laptop were much faster -- typed lecture notes come out at a rate of about 33 words a minute, compared to 22 words a minute for handwritten notes -- but the tendency to take verbatim notes meant they were not truly engaging with the content.

“Ironically, the very feature that makes laptop note-taking so appealing -- the ability to take notes more quickly -- was what undermined learning,” educational psychologist Dr. Kenneth Kiewra from the University of Nebraska in Lincoln told the Journal.


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