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Taking Notes by Hand or on a Computer

Posted by on in Teaching Strategies
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Being the Tech Lead at a 1:1 chromebook school means that I have to decide what is best for my school’s technology needs. As students move from class to class and take notes in these various classes, I’ve wondered if continuing to take notes by hand or if typing them is what is best for them. Will they retain the information more if they write it, than if they typed it?


For the first few months I decided to use both methods of taking notes and observe what my students had to say.

  • Some students said that they could remember the information better if they wrote it down in their notebooks. I wondered if that was truly the case, or if that’s what they were use to.

  • Others said that they prefered to take notes on their chromebooks. They could type faster than they could write and they were better at organizing digital documents than paper ones.

Looking at research:

  1. Mueller and Oppenheimer (2014) concluded that writing information by hand was more beneficial to students, because typing it was “shallower processing”. Students that were typing the information were writing word for word what they were hearing, whereas the students writing the information on paper where synthesizing and reflecting on it.

  2. Hembrooke and Gray (2003) tested two groups of students. One was allowed to take notes by hand and the other on a computer. The results indicated the students that were allowed to take notes on the computer were often distracted by the other uses of the computer, such as email, IM, and chat, which influenced a lower retention of the content.



Putting Education in "Educational" Apps: Lessons From the Science of Learning Psychological Science in the Public Interest May 1, 2015 16: 3-34 




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Teacher, Speaker, and Author of Teaching in a Chromebook Classroom. Dr. Sweet has a Doctorate in Educational Technology and e-Learning. Her research includes: Screencasting Feedback in Online Learning. She has experience teaching every grade PK-12th grade. She is passionate about educational technology.
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