Take Notes by Hand for Deeper Processing

By Diane Ross, M.Ed., Realityworks Senior Field Account Manager for NC, SC, VA, WV

A young man who is close to me recently showed me his college report card, which indicated he had received an A in English. He was previously challenged in that subject, but has always excelled in math and science. I had warned him that without really good writing skills, his future as an engineer would suffer.

I asked him what was different this semester, and he told me that his teacher asked him to take notes by hand, rather than typing them on his computer. It turns out her advice to him is researched-based.

Researchers have found that taking notes on a computer results in “shallow processing.” This means that the student is not processing the information, but merely recording it. Handwriting, they say, allows the student to “listen, digest and summarize.”

Of course, by no means am I suggesting laptops be banned from schools. Many times, teachers use them as a tool to allow students to research information. Sometimes verbatim note-taking is appropriate, but for deep learning, the student needs time – the time it takes to write it down, to take in and retain the information.

Realityworks embraces this research and offers a “RealCare Baby Experience  Workbook” for students engaged in our RealCare Baby programs, as well a s a “My Life Workbook” for our Pregnancy Profile program.  This allows students to access all information inside the program, and to take notes, quizzes and essentially create a simple portfolio of learned activities.

Incorporating tools like workbooks into the classroom can help students reach that deeper level of understanding. As the study stated, “taking notes by hand forces the brain to engage in some heavy ‘mental lifting,'” and these efforts will foster comprehension and retention.

As we travel through the country this summer make sure to stop by and see us at the different conferences and conventions we’ll be at. We’d love to get your input and feedback!

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