Should students check their laptops at the classroom door? Jessica Flaxman, a former Masters student at Klingenstein and current Director of Studies at Charlotte Country Day School in NC summarizes Robert Lee Hotz’s new article “Can Handwriting Make You Smarter?” quite well and makes the EA Team wonder if we should be working on our penmanship this summer!
In “Can Handwriting Make You Smarter?” Robert Lee Hotz argues what many teachers already believe: that students who hand write their notes learn better than those who type. According to Hotz, faster note-taking does not correlate with deeper understanding of the material. Researchers have found that “the very feature that makes laptop note-taking so appealing – the ability to take notes more quickly – was what undermined learning.” Interestingly, digital note-taking does appear to result in short-term gains for note-takers. But after 24 hours, those who type notes start to forget the material they transcribed. To arrive at these conclusions, researchers at Princeton and UCLA compared the work product of students who took longhand notes and found that they not only retained knowledge for longer, but also more readily understood new concepts. Adds Michael Friedman of Harvard, when we take notes, we actually “transform” what we hear, making information acquisition both dynamic and personal. Based on this research, the sharpest edge appears to still belongs to the student who can distill and synthesize information as he/she hears it and commit it to memory through writing notes by hand.