any of us enjoy the feeling of pen on paper when studying but does it have any advantages to learning? As it turns out, paper doesn’t only just feel good, research shows writing by hand in some ways are superior when it comes to learning, creativity and productivity.
It might feel like a no-brainer to ditch some of your digital devices, along with all their pings, bling’s and other attention grabbing qualities to make it easier to focus your mind on studying. After all, calm and quiet spaces mean a calm and quiet mind, right? But did you know that hand writing your notes, rather than typing, can also intrinsically increase your focus while studying? Research suggests that students who hand write their notes seem to think more intensely about the material as they write it due to increased focus.
So, not only are we able to diminish pesky distractions by switching to hand written notes but also increase our focus on the information we’re supposed to be taking in. One thing is being able to concentrate more but research also suggests that we can take this one step further and actually increase our capacity to understand and process information on a deeper level. One study looking at students learning Algebra found that those taking handwritten notes experienced a higher degree of transfer of information than those typing. Supporting research suggests that typing notes leads to a more shallow processing of information, almost like your brain is in sleep mode! Whereas handwriting is more efficient at processing information overall.
If we don’t remember the insight, did we even learn anything at all? Sometimes studying can feel like a memory game more than anything else. So why not give ourselves the best chance at remembering what we need to for that final paper or exam? We found tons of research pointing to an increase in information retention when hand writing notes instead of typing them. This link means that students are able to perform better through recalling information when needed. Some studies go so far as to question the use of typing in schools and that there should be more pen-to-paper studying to help increase memory and learning.
“Creativity allows people to be affective”
No matter what subject, creativity and inspiration will certainly fuel your learning (and even enjoyment!) while studying. Writing by hand actually influences your cognitive processes in a way that slows you down — in a good way — and helps forge creativity and new ideas. One study we found even suggests that writing by hand is more strongly linked to emotion processing compared to typing. This could lead to a more mindful and creative midframe while studying too! So, should you completely ditch your laptop while studying? Well, obviously not. There are lots of things that you would need your computer to get done. The science is still debating either side and some studies do suggest that taking notes on a laptop can help with certain aspects like keeping up with fast paced lectures for example.
What we do know for sure though is that there is a lot to be said for embracing more handwritten note taking time in your study regime and everyone’s learning style is different. Be sure to give it a try this next exam and see if you can feel any of the benefits.
Author is a Retd Principal. He can be reached at email@example.com