Back to school shopping is in full swing, but why buy notebooks if you can take notes on your laptop? As we are going back to school, you may be asking yourself, is it better to type notes or write notes in class? It’s an age-old question like Coke vs. Pepsi, iPhone vs. Android, or Kanye vs. the World. While taking notes is definitely better than not taking notes, the convenience of typing notes may have significant drawbacks. 

School classrooms are updating to computers and tablets to follow this tech era. However, typing notes in class could be hurting student performance. Handwriting is correlated to both higher grades and standardized test scores. Although long-hand notes take more time, handwriting notes benefits the brain and allows for deeper learning.


Typed Notes = Shallower Learning

Studies show that when computers are used for easier note taking, laptop use can negatively affect performance on assessments (Mueller and Oppenheimer). Although typing is faster and allows you to take more notes, if the notes are taken while mindlessly transcribing content then the benefit of more notes disappears. Typing allows for notes to be taken verbatim where as students that take handwritten notes benefit from having to listen, digest, and decide what is most important to take notes on.

One of our goals in DrawnToDiscover is to prepare the 21st century child’s fingers and thumb  that will be able to quickly take those notes. This preparation includes cursive. Our experience in developing fine motor with children is that when they have fine motor skills with weekly drawing lessons (K, 1st and 2nd) , and writing sight words as a daily practice their skills will lead to a cursive study that is easy to learn and easy to teach in 3rd grade.

Typed note-taking lacks the synthesis, reframing, and the understanding of information that long-hand notes require (Ramirez). To create deeper connections to presented information, notes should be taken by hand. Taking notes by hand helps kids represent information in a way that makes sense to them. Along with words, pictures can be used to process and deeper understand the material being taught. A great tool for understanding the unfamiliar is the lab notebook (Ramirez). Within lab notebooks, kids draw pictures of what they see and what they predict. It allows them to express their own original ideas and work through the discovery process. If you go to wendyhalperin.com you can see notes taken both verbally and visually by Wendy. Many times it is quicker to draw something rather than be confined by words only. Wendy believes busy hands amplify concentration .


The Lab Notebook

A lab notebook is traditionally only used for science classes. However, any notebook can be a “lab” notebook; it simply is a notebook used to journal thoughts through a combination of both images and words. The “lab” notebook is a great way to integrate visual understanding to expand creativity and discovery. In DrawnToDiscover curriculums, we use drawing as a tool to expand visual literacy, develop understanding for STEAM topics, and teach fine motor skills. Drawing diagrams and labeling pictures enhances visual learning while teaching vocabulary. Our unique drawing lessons inspire curiosity and discovery in young minds.

At DrawnToDiscover, we have children draw things by hand on various topics because we are trying to create more connections to information. What we are fostering are experiential links in a child’s brain, and one of the best pathways is through their fingers.


Better Memory and Test Performance

When you write something down you are more likely to remember it. This is largely due to the thumb having a large representation in the motor area of the brain. The finger-thumb opposition that happens when you hand-write information helps you remember the material. However, typing doesn’t access the same motor area of the brain that the thumb has, making what you type less memorable.

Furthermore, according to a study published in Psychological Science, students taking long-hand notes appear to process information more deeply than those who take notes on a laptop (Izadi). Students who used longhand remembered more and understood the material better. Pam A. Mueller of Princeton and Daniel M. Oppenheimer of the University of California, Los Angeles, have reported that in both laboratory setting and real-world classrooms, students learn better when they take notes by hand than when they type on a keyboard. Writing by hand allows the student to process a lecture’s contents and rephrase it in a way that makes sense to them. With handwriting, the very act of putting information down forces you to focus on what’s important (Konnikova). Handwriting notes engages your brain more and leads to both better grades and better scores.


~Caleigh Cramer and Miss WEndy


Want to keep learning? You may also like:

Handwriting: A Better Way to Improve Fine Motor Skills Than Typing

How Early Handwriting Instruction Improves Student Performance

The Surprisingly Powerful Influence of Drawing on Memory



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