Note taking by using computer makes you better recall

When you get into the college, have you ever agonized about your note-taking skills? For me, studying in high school and studying in college was drastically different. Professors talk about a variety of fields and I have to remember all of the main points and examples at the same time. Thus, my freshman grade was pretty bad and I had to take advice from my parents and professors to improve my study skills. There are many ways to review what you’ve learned, but this journal gave me a new perspective of recalling memory. You might’ve had to take notes by using a computer instead of hand writing them. If you have a lecture where your professor talks really fast or talks a lot, you might have used or thought to use a computer to take notes.

The study I want to share is about improving memory recollection by using the alternative note-taking skill I’ve previously mentioned; transcribing by using a computer. This experiment was conducted by Dung C. Bui, Joel Myerson, and Sandra Hale of Washington University. They hypothesized three things, but here, I want to focus on the first experiment. The researchers wanted to compare taking notes by hand with taking notes using a computer in terms of their effects on test performance. The researchers gathered eighty undergraduate students and tested free recall and short answer after showing them a lecture. There were four conditions: Hand_organized, Hand_transcribed, Computer_organized, Computer_transcribed. As a result, there was more recall when using a computer than when using your hand to take notes when transcribing a lecture. This study explained the limitations of writing by hand due to the speed of writing and the length of time. Also, considering the aspect of the quantity of the notes, working memory had a relationship with recall ability. In another blog, I found a study where students who took notes using a computer wrote an average of 310 words per lecture while students who took notes by hand wrote an average of 173 words. This number supports the finding that using the computer is much faster in inputting words.

Summarizing shortly about the second and third experiment, organized notes were better in recalling delayed test performance than transcribed notes, but not for immediate test performance. Also, in terms of note-quantity, if the note was transcribed, the quantity could be greater. Next, the researcher hypothesized that working memory is related to recalling. In addition, working memory is essential for effective note-taking. If there is an individual difference, it is due to the variance of working memory abilities that have an effect on organized notes, not on transcribed notes. So the second and third experiments were vital to support the first experiment and explain the exempted situations.

Myself, I like taking transcribed notes by hand or paraphrasing what the professor is saying in my notes. This type of skill is good for weekly quizzes but not for the mid-term or final exam. According to this research, I should have taken notes based on transcribed notes for the final. Especially if I am going to write transcribed notes during the lecture, I think I’d better use my laptop than my hand so that I don’t have to always ask the professor about points I missed. If you were worrying about your own note-taking style, this research might help you develop the proper studying-skills for each situation. Again, this is based on the result of test performance. The strong point of this research is it defines the situations well so that you don’t doubt any exceptions or questions in your mind. The conclusion is shortly after using your computer, you can write a lot during class especially if it is typed. Yet, there are a lot of situations that need another style of note-taking skill. I hope that you, the reader, will use this post to switch between note taking skills. If you haven’t tried to do so, I think that this is a good method to study.

2 thoughts on “Note taking by using computer makes you better recall

  1. allieboe

    I had the same problem of note-taking when I first came to UMW. I never had a class in high school in which there wasn’t a PowerPoint presentation to copy off of later just in case I didn’t get all of the notes. It was completely different here, where many professors have just an open lecture with no type of visual presentation. I had a hard time keeping up with writing, and decided to switch to computer note-taking when in a lecture-only class. This really helped me to speed up my notes and allowed me to type more than I would have written. However, I could see how typing notes may be hard for someone who is not proficient in keyboarding. With the progress of technology though, I don’t think that it will remain a problem for the next generation.

  2. amichaud

    I recently switched over to using my computer for note taking which makes this an even more interesting read. I was having a very hard time taking everything down in a timely manner and I found that by the end of class my hand was so tired I would stop taking notes and start memorizing the information which defiantly didn’t work in my favor. Its much easier to focus on the lecture and the side notes that professors mention. It’s also less time consuming to press the delete button on the computer rather than erasing the entire paragraph that you realized you didn’t need. This article could be beneficial for such a wide range of individuals.

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