The biggest benefit of taking notes is you have to work through information in order to write words down physically. Typing notes works better when you have lots of material you have to take notes on, and taking notes by hand is not convenient or quick enough. In short, studies have consistently shown that writing notes by hand allows you to recall material better than typing. Numerous studies show that students who write notes are better at remembering what they are learning.
Studies show that students who write notes by writing it out using pen and paper have a better understanding of a topic compared to students who type it out. Even if students who wrote notes had better recall, students who typed notes had more notes with which to work. Researchers at Princeton and UCLA conducted a number of studies demonstrating differences between students who wrote notes versus students who typed notes. In their findings, they found that students assigned to typed notes had almost double the word overlap of students who wrote notes.
When students were tested on whether or not they remembered what they wrote, students writing notes remembered more than those typing. In another study, children who wrote their essay in hand produced more words than those who typed their essay. 76 Childrens letters were better able to recognize them than a group that learned to type on a computer. In one experiment, where students were asked to take notes during multiple TED Talks, students who were randomly assigned to typing their notes took 310 words of notes, on average, whereas students who were assigned to writing their notes took just 173 words, on average.
In the case of taking notes in lectures, the major problem with typing is that people are more prone to engaging in verbatim note-taking when typing than when writing notes by hand. Testing has shown that, for the most part, telling students to refrain from taking verbatim notes while they are typing does not really result in improved note-taking skills. Typing encourages taking verbatim notes, not giving the message much thought.
Comparing writing with typing, you are more likely to engage in critical thinking when writing with your hands than you are when you are typing. If we were to compare typing speeds to handwriting, handwriting would lose out, since writing your thoughts down on paper is so much slower. No matter how fast the pen moves across the notebook, writing long-form is far more agonizing than typing.
Unless you regularly type out your documents, taking a quick look at your notes takes up time. When writing notes by hand, you are freer to express your ideas and thoughts on that single piece of paper. When you use the paper to record your thoughts, it is easier for you to recall what and where you wrote them.
Rather than just having your fingers doing the walking on the keyboard, taking notes with pen and paper requires that you listen and digest material, so that you can distill it into the key points that you want to write about. Writing notes by hand generally makes you more concise, as humans are typically able to type more quickly than they are able to write. The reason that people can type faster than they can write is because information goes straight from ear to fingertips, without much mental processing. Writing notes by hand requires that the person taking notes synthesizes the information; when people type notes, they are usually just transcribing information; they are not interacting with it.
These are all things that do not directly affect your learning abilities, but that you should still consider when you are making a decision about whether to write notes by hand or type them on a computer. Depending on the person, some people will admit that writing by hand allows their creative minds to function more easily than typing. Writing by hand is a neural sensory activity, which is why it is essential to select a type of pen that suits your style of writing and needs. The last question, really the only question that matters to students, is whether you will perform better on a test when typing versus when you are writing notes.
Just as with the limited space teachers have on their class boards, you need to be selective when it comes to writing notes on paper. Despite those drawbacks, some students find that typing out notes in class is more efficient. Students taking notes by hand have to process a lecture rapidly and rewrite them in a way that makes sense to them, giving them a leg up on memorizing the new concepts in the long run. The authors of the study suggested varying how students took notes–incorporating writing, drawing, and printing–to make sure students stay engaged and engaged, as best as they can, by forcing material into their memories.
If you are counting on reviewing material after class to study it, whether that is days later while doing your homework or months down the line just before a test, it may benefit you to create fuller notes with type, though that comes with the tradeoff of not processing material as well as you would if you wrote them by hand. According to the science news for students, taking notes by hand is more demanding, as it involves thinking through and producing the shapes of every single letter, retrieving memories of how letters looked, controlling your hands while writing, and watching as each letters form takes form. In a paper published in April in Psychological Science, two U.S. researchers, Pam Muller and Daniel Oppenheimer, argue that writing notes using a pen, instead of a laptop, gives students better understanding of the subject matter. This mindless typing may result in lack of meaningful comprehension and application of information, even though it can allow for faster typing of multiple words.