iPad or Notepad?

Studies uncover the benefit of handwriting notes

Rachel Lechwar, Copy Editor

    At Kenny, students do not think twice before opening up notability for class notes. The app provides organization by classes and the opportunity to type or handwrite notes. Why sift through papers of scrawled writing when you could flip through legible documents instead? The answer is grounded in research and studies that examine the impact of technology on learning.

    “When people type their notes, they have this tendency to try to take verbatim notes and write down as much of the lecture as they can,” social psychologist Pam A. Mueller of Princeton University said in an interview with NPR’s Rachel Martin.

     “The students who were taking longhand notes in our studies were forced to be more selective — because you can’t write as fast as you can type. And that extra processing of the material that they were doing benefited them.”

    In a series of studies, Mueller put this to the test, with university students split into taking notes on paper or typing them. The result was a significant difference in “conceptual application” question results, as typing students performed much worse.

    In this increasingly digital world, students are growing less likely to turn back to handwriting. Maybe the next generation will not even grow up learning to write on paper. Maybe the increase in programs such as notability that offer handwriting will close the learning gap that holds students back from processing information. Nonetheless, it is important to bear these studies in mind when determining whether to utilize technological resources or stick to the traditional pencil and paper.