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Hand versus Computer

Having gone to college in the post-laptop era, I sat in many lectures and took notes with a computer and by hand. I don't know what it was, but I always felt a stronger connection with the material when I wrote my notes by hand. I would even re-write lectures by hand that I had originally taken down with my laptop. I always felt that there was disconnect when you had that computer screen in the way.

Researchers at Princeton University and the University of California have found many students agree. Showing them a TED talk, they gave 65 college students the option of taking notes by laptop or by hand. A half hour later, the students were made to answer factual-recall questions and conceptual application questions about the lecture. While both laptop and hand note takers were equally able to recall facts, those who had taken notes by hand performed significantly better on the conceptual questions. Not only that, when participants were given a week to review their notes and take the conceptual test again, those who had taken notes by hand still outperformed those who had taken notes with a laptop.

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