Handwriting Notes vs Computer Note Taking 


Handwriting vs computer notetaking
Handwriting vs computer notetaking
Photo by: Sadiya Teeple

Is handwriting your notes truly better for understanding and retention of a subject, or have computers made handwritten notetaking obsolete?  

Jonathan Finn, an associate communications professor, assisted me in understanding the subject.   

 “It’s not about what I believe but about what the research shows. A substantial body of research shows that students learn more and better when they take notes by hand rather than typing. Typing allows students to copy more information but they don’t process it as well. Therefore, they learn less.”  

Jonathan Finn, an associate communications professor

Many professors at Laurier stress the importance of handwriting notes for memorization heavy courses. As a student, this may seem frustrating due to the accessibility of computers. 

When asked if he chooses handwriting notes versus online notes in his personal life, Finn stated that it differs: “If I am doing something relatively simple, I have no problem typing. But if I am making notes from academic articles and books or doing other work that requires significant attention, I always take notes by hand and then type up a second set of notes based on my handwritten notes.” 

However, is it fair for professors to enforce a particular method of notetaking in their classes? 

“I find this a difficult line to walk as an instructor. On one hand, research shows that handwritten notes are better for learning. On the other hand, students have been brought up in an educational system that increasingly functions through the laptop and Google software,” Finn said.  

 “As a teacher and outside cases related to accessibility, I want students to handwrite so they have better learning outcomes. But I also recognize that that is not how they have been taught or what they are used to. This term I have settled on a compromise – I encourage students to handwrite notes and explain the research behind that approach, but I don’t forbid anyone from taking notes on a computer, tablet or phone.”  

Taking notes at all is essential for success in all courses. However, how students choose to take notes is a personal decision that impacts studying, memory function and organization.  

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