and Oppenheimer conducted three experiments to address whether academic
performance was impacted by note taking via laptops or with a pen and paper.
The researchers also evaluated students’ performance on conceptual questions,
which served as a measure of cognitive processing, as a function of verbatim
notetaking. The first study investigated differences in performance on factual
recall and conceptual questions by means of note taking via a laptop or pen and
paper. The second study investigated the same question as study 1 as well as whether
expressing participants to avoid verbatim notetaking would result in improved performance
on factual recall and conceptual questions. The third study examined the same
question as study 1 as well as whether academic performance was improved for
laptop notetakers if participants were given an opportunity to review notes.
for study 1 included that note-taking on a laptop may affect academic performance
or not as well as in the same regard with note-taking with pen and paper. For
study 2, researchers considered the same alternatives as well as note-taking on
a laptop with restriction of verbatim transcription will show an effect on
academic performance or not. Study 3 included the same alternatives as study 1
as well as the opportunity to review notes before testing will affect academic
performance or not.
students from Princeton University completed study 1 in which participants were
divided into 2 groups: laptop or handwritten notetakers. After taking notes on
the Ted Talk lectures, participants answered factual-recall and conceptual
questions to assess academic performance. Study 2 included 151 participants
from the University of California, Los Angeles Anderson Behavioral Lab. Participants
were divided into 3 note taking conditions: laptop, laptop with instruction to
avoid verbatim transcription, and handwritten note taking. As in study 1, the
researchers evaluated the same dependent variables. Study 3 involved 109 participants
from the same subject pool as study 2. Participants took notes on prose passage
lectures either with a laptop or pen and paper; the following week, some were
given an opportunity to study their notes before testing. Participants’
academic performance was assessed with 40 questions of factual recall, conceptual,
inferential and application questions.
In study 1, there were no
differences regarding note-taking medium on factual-recall questions, and those
handwriting notes performed better on conceptual questions. Participants in
study 2 who handwrote their notes performed better on conceptual questions –
indicating depth of cognitive processing – compared to those taking notes on a
laptop without instruction to avoid verbatim transcription. Academic performance
also was not affected by laptop note taking with the instruction to avoid
verbatim transcription. In study 3, academic performance was affected when laptop
and handwritten note-taking participants had the chance to review their notes. Overall,
results from the studies indicated participants with pen and paper wrote fewer
notes, those note-taking with a laptop were more likely to transcribe the
lecture verbatim, and better performances were associated with more notes but
also less verbatim.
These experiments support the ideas
that the note-taking medium does affect academic performance as well as refraining
from verbatim transcription enhances cognitive processing. A follow-up study
using a computer app that limits word count may provide data that indicates differences
between laptop users with and without an intervention and handwriting notetakers.