What are pre-writing activities
Three scientifically proven links between handwritten notes and memory
At conferences, lectures, and meetings, it's normal for people around you to type their notes on their laptops, tablets, or phones. Maybe you do that yourself too!
And why not? Typing is an incredibly efficient way of absorbing large amounts of information.
But if you really like the material understand Then typing the notes is not the best way to go. Recent studies by psychologists and neuroscientists show that writing by hand is best for effective learning.
It has to do with how the brain processes various information. More precisely, it makes a difference whether you digitally transcribe the content of a spoken text or write a summary of it on paper.
As the digital method increasingly dominates, old-fashioned handwriting could give you an advantage. Handwriting improves your ability to retain information, understand new ideas, and be more productive - with the added benefit of not being distracted by your device.
Read on to learn about three scientifically proven links between handwritten notes and keeping things important.
1. The pen is mightier than the keyboard
At least that's what researchers Pam Mueller from Princeton University and Daniel Oppenheimer from UCLA say in their recently published study of the same title in the journal Psychological Science.
Three experiments conducted led them to conclude that using laptops to jot down information even interferes with learning. Why? Because it often means that information is only superficially absorbed.
In short, when you type your notes, you are more likely to jot down lectures verbatim. When you write on paper with a pen, you are more selective about summarizing important information.
Those who write on paper use their brains to take in, summarize, and briefly review the core information. This in turn promotes understanding and memory of it.
Mueller and Oppenheimer found that the study participants who typed their notes on the laptop performed worse on conceptual questions than those who took notes on paper.
"People's tendency to take notes on their laptops in full, instead of processing the information in their heads and then reproducing it in their own words, is actually detrimental to learning," they wrote.
When you really need to understand new information, consider going back to pen and paper.
Later, when you try to remember the information, your brain will thank you for making this task easier.
2. Robust retrieval: Writing by hand makes a big difference
Some of the note-takers argued that typing would make them more productive because it would allow them to write more text faster.
But without reading these notes afterwards and rehearsing them, this additional transcription is of little use.
Washington University psychology professors Dung Bui, Joel Myerson, and Sandra Hale found that computer notes were the same instant Provide the advantage of increased memory, which is also provided by well-organized, handwritten notes.
The computer wins ... but only initially.
Then their study, published in the Journal of Educational Psychology, shows something interesting: that the benefit fades within 24 hours.
After that time, those who typed their notes did worse on tests.
The researchers concluded that the note typists remembered the content more poorly because they had not actively summarized the main points and reproduced them in their own words.
“Jotting down neat notes seems to result in deeper and more extensive processing of the lecture information, while transcribing only requires a superficial absorption of the information,” they explained.
The next time you need to keep information from a lecture or meeting for more than 24 hours, consider taking handwritten notes. You can just keep the content in your head better.
3. Writing for a Healthy Brain
Some people prefer electronic notes because their handwriting has become an illegible scribble.
If you think this applies to you, don't put the pen and paper aside right now!
For brain health and development, there are good reasons to keep writing on paper.
Research by psychology professor Karin James of Indiana University looked at children who were not yet able to read or write.
Their study, published in Trends in Neuroscience and Education, asked children to reproduce a single letter either by typing it, by drawing on unlined paper, or by tracing dots.
Then the researchers put the children in an MRI scanner and had them look at the same image again.
When looking at the picture, the children pointed out the letterdrawn had activities in three areas of the brain.
The children's brains that make up the letter traced or typed did not show the same effect.
The study shows the learning advantages of handwritten lettering, explains James, especially those advantages that arise from the activation of motor pyramidal trajectories.
But that doesn't mean that only children benefit from writing by hand.
The more you use these brain pathways, the better for your overall brain health. The terms “lifelong learning” and the principle “use it or lose it” apply to nothing more than your brain. Both activities prevent debilitating diseases such as Alzheimer's and strengthen your cognitive abilities.
In other words, if you're doing a boring talk at a conference and you want to see what's happening on Facebook, then go ahead and do it. That's a good reason to have the laptop open.
But if you're trying to write down complex material and keep it - or just want to train your brain - put the laptop aside ... and take out a pen.
Redbooth's gorgeous new Gantt charts first launched on the pages of a notebook. Check out the drawings and notes by graphic designer Sarah Tanner here.
Suzy is an award-winning journalist and writer based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She started out as a reporter for the Chicago Tribune and has worked as an editor for Twin Cities Business magazine. Suzy loves discovering people's stories and making complex topics easy to understand. Outside of work, she enjoys doing triathlons and going on adventures with her husband and three daughters.
Read more by Suzy Frisch »
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