A Learning Secret: Don’t Take Notes with a Laptop
“More is better.” From the number of gigs in a cellular data plan to the horsepower in a pickup truck, this mantra is ubiquitous in American culture. When it comes to college students, the belief that more is better may underlie their widely-held view that laptops in the classroom enhance their academic performance. Obviously it is advantageous to draft more complete notes that precisely capture the course content and allow for a verbatim review of the material at a later date. What drives this paradoxical finding? To evaluate this theory, Mueller and Oppenheimer assessed the content of notes taken by hand versus laptop. If the source of the advantage for longhand notes derives from the conceptual processes they evoke, perhaps instructing laptop users to draft summative rather than verbatim notes will boost performance. Wrong again. Beyond altering students’ cognitive processes and thereby reducing learning, laptops pose other threats in the classroom.
Related: Learning to Learn