It’s UCF finals week and Katie Noll gets ready to study only to discover her computer hard drive has failed.
Noll, a freshman general business major at UCF, decided to give laptop notes a try last semester, which was a change for her. She was disappointed in how her grades dropped due to her computer distracting her in class and the misfortune of her hard drive failing.
“I lost everything on my computer and I didn’t do good on the final because I lost all my notes, so yeah I stick to hand writing notes now,” Noll said.
Researchers at Princeton University and the University of California, Los Angeles, published a study last year that found handwritten notes to be more effective in helping students retain information. The study asked approximately half of the 67 Princeton students and 151 UCLA students to take notes by hand and the other half to take notes using a computer while watching a 15-minute TED talk.
The study found that students who used a computer for notes had more typed in an organized manner but typed the exact information. Students who wrote the notes had fewer words but they used keywords, which allowed them to comprehend the topics.
“Although more notes are beneficial, at least to a point, if the notes are taken indiscriminately or by mindlessly transcribing content, as is more likely the case on a laptop than when notes are taken longhand, the benefit disappears,” the study states.
Simone Delahoussaye, a UCF junior psychology major, takes all her notes by hand. She thinks that using electronics for notes is just too distracting and takes away from what is being said in the present.
“I comprehend more writing it just because I, I don’t know, it takes a little bit more effort and a little more time,” Delahoussaye said. “I even use notecards because it helps reinforce it for me, at least.”
Emily Kitsmiller is a first year graduate student who is majoring in psychology. She said she still takes all her notes by hand even though it sometimes causes some problems for her later.
“I think in the moment I pay better attention with the hand-written notes but my hand writing is terrible and so after the fact its hard to read them so sometimes I wish I had typed up notes that were more legible,” Kitsmiller said.
Some teachers all around the country, including UCF, are taking a stance to reduce the presence of technology in the classroom. Some teachers state in the syllabus that electronics are not allowed in the classroom, which requires students to hand write their notes.
“Some of my teachers don’t really allow you to use a laptop, which is kind of ridiculous,” said Nicholas Pitre, a freshman mechanical engineering major.
Pitre said he splits up how he takes his notes in each of his classes because of different sets of rules each teacher has put in place. It is mainly his chemistry class that does not allow laptops in the classroom, which then forces him to take hand written notes.
Robby Hamoud, a senior in marketing, takes his notes in a notebook and said a couple of his classes restrict electronics.
“It’s because they want their students paying attention to them and when everyone is searching the web or on their phone and things like that they aren’t paying attention to the teacher,” Hamoud said.
Kitsmiller has a similar situation; some of her classes restrict electronics.
“The reason given by the professor I’ve had, who restricts electronics, is that he wants us to like stay focus and engage with the class and even if you aren’t necessarily distracted by your laptop like someone sitting around you might be, which I think is understandable,” Kitsmiller said.
The study shows that using laptops for notes can actually negatively affect performance on educational assessments. Even though that means there is more typed out, it could affect how you retain the information and it was proven that students retain more when writing out the notes they are taking.
“I definitely see how taking notes on laptops can cause a problem for students learning and study habit,” Noll said. “Laptops are just so distracting and easy to get off track and so many problems can happen with the technical side of things.”