Using laptops to take notes in class is a popular and attractive method to college students. Laptops allow one to take more extensive notes and sometimes can provide students with a full transcript of a lecture.
However, these benefits may not be benefits after all according to many psychologists.
The most notable experiment is that by Pam Mueller and David Oppenheimer, who conducted experiments by having students from Princeton and UCLA take notes by hand and by computer.
Their findings, according to Scientific America, show those who took handwritten notes did better on recalling and understanding the information right after the lecture and a week after the lecture.
However, professors still allow students to use laptops in class. Dr. Tony Caito, political science professor and debate program advisor sees the benefits in allowing students to use their laptops in class.
“I like my students to be able to do research on the fly… I enjoy that because it adds flavor to the class, more opinions, facts, and more real time,” Caito said. “Maybe something came in the news feed in the last half hour I was teaching, and that’s helpful.”
Caito also sees the benefits in allowing laptops due to the fact some students may have bad hand writing or are left handed, like himself, and find typing easier.
Lydia Deatherage, a freshman at Corban, finds hand written notes to be her preference.
“When I have written something down I tend to remember it more easily than when I don’t write it down… If [the notes] were typed, I would have a greater chance of forgetting they were on my computer…Computers [also] can die and crash, so I prefer hand-written notes,” Deatherage said.
While learning styles and preferences may differ, Scientific America also addresses the distraction laptops can cause. In their article they write, “In one study with law school students, nearly 90% of laptop users engaged in online activities unrelated to coursework for at least five minutes, and roughly 60% were distracted for half the class.”
Caito addressed this problem as well.
“I can walk from front to the back of the classroom, one time, and I’ll know who is misusing their laptop… It’s harder to conceal doing something on a laptop because it’s big and it’s out there, so I can tell if I walk back and forth. I can generally tell if someone’s sneaking on their phone… and I think [handhelds are] more of a distraction” Caito said.
Another student, Mariah Meyers-Arizmendi, a sophomore at Corban studying psychology, finds her iPad mini to be the best medium for note taking.
“I can easily edit and print notes I take on my iPad mini. I find it faster than writing and it’s also better to highlight and reformat notes” she said.
With a multitude of opinions and studies, Caito thinks it really comes down to the individual student’s preference. “Every student learns differently. As an instructor, I want to be able to allow for all of those ways of learning to make sure I don’t leave any student out” Caito said.