When observing the average classroom, one would be hard-pressed to not find students utilizing their computers to take notes. However, this sheds light on a rising question: is it better to write longhand or type?
Lyombe Eko, a professor of Journalism and Creative Media Industries, said he prepares his lectures in a summarized form and advocates his students write by hand, as he says that writing is a natural form of interacting with the material.
“A lot of students are used to the passive way of learning were the it’s the professor’s authority who pours knowledge into them and they are supposed to memorize and regurgitate it back,” Eko said. “I don’t like that type of educational system. I believe professors are only as good as their students, good students keep professors on their toes and have an exchange were there is something learned.”
Eko said the brain gets confused with the bombardment of information when someone tries to balance a multitude of subjects and external factors such as television or computers.
Technology can be a distraction to students who receive an email or message from a social media platform during class, he said. It causes them to attempt to become multitaskers.
“The human mind is designed to be a serial tasker, not a multitasker. The note-taking method is taking things one at a time, taking key words and creating summaries with them,” Eko said. “When it comes to the time of recall, it is easy because you just think about the prompt.”
On the other side of the spectrum, Chloe Killebrew, a communication studies bachelor and current graduate student, said from a student’s perspective, typing on a computer can be preferable due to the speed difference between writing longhand and typing.
The way a student takes their notes is dependent on their preference, she said. As a Teaching Assistant, she said she would never restrict a student from their own method of note-taking.
“As a student, in most of my classes, I prefer to type my notes out,” Killebrew said. “I feel that I can type faster than I would be able to write down notes.”
The style of note-taking is dependent on the course material, Killebrew said. One example is a class she takes which is more theoretical based, requiring more diagrams and overall making written notes the more effective method.
Due to the manner in which typing may cause a disconnection between the material and the student, as previously stated by Eko, Killebrew has formulated methods to assist with studying her typed notes, said.
“If it’s a PowerPoint, I will be taking notes and making a line so that I can have my own personal notes next to it,” she said. “I like to print out my notes afterwards, I like to highlight and have an outline of them. I use a kind of bulletin format, that way I can space it.”
Killebrew said that if a student does prefer to type their notes, there are simple yet effective countermeasures to prevent distractions such as turning their phones on Do Not Disturb mode, puting their phones away, and turning off messages if there are Mac users in case of Alerts.
Jacob Merrell Greenwell, a junior advertising major from Dallas, said that the first part of typing one’s notes is having a computer to type with, an option that may not be available to every student.
Greenwell went on to explain the downsides to typing. He said that by writing out their notes, students are not only studying and interacting with the material during class, but also have the same benefit as those who type and can access their notes later.
Greenwell said one reason for his preference for writing is penmanship. He said in his younger years his handwriting was lacking and though, it is a digitalized world, writing is a fundamental component of society.
“I can type faster than I can write,” Greenwell said. “Many would ask, ‘well, why not type then?’ I primarily write because half the time I am comprehending what I am doing. When you are typing a ‘y’, you don’t know if you are typing a ‘y’, ‘a,’ or ‘d,’ all you know is that you are making a word. When you actually think about the letter itself, you comprehend what you are writing and are studying the courses material at the same time.”