Autumn 2014 / Life on Campus
Poll: Do you take handwritten notes or use your laptop/tablet/iPad?

A study in Psychological Science found that longhand notetakers learn better – U of T students agree


Illustration: Isabel Foo When it comes to successful learning, high-tech innovations may not always help. A study in Psychological Science found that students who took notes on laptops didn’t learn material as well as those who took notes longhand – perhaps because students who handwrite their notes more often reframe material in their own words, absorbing the information better. More than a third of U of T students always take long-hand notes. “Working as a teaching assistant, [I noticed that] laptops tend to reduce social interaction,” adds Emily Zoe Hertzman, a fifth-year anthropology student. “I do find that after I type out my notes I’ll write it out by hand to help me learn it,” says Alexandra Zimmer, one of the minority of U of T students who take notes exclusively on a laptop or other device. Speed and convenience were the top reasons students report for using devices in class. Of course, the choice isn’t either/or; many say they use both methods. This highly unscientific poll of 50 students was conducted on the St. George campus in July.


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