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Evidence mounts that laptops are terrible for students at lectures

Do you use a laptop or tablet to take notes during school lectures or meetings? If so then maybe you should reconsider pen and paper because there’s increasing evidence that using laptops during lectures decreases learning which can result in lower grades, reports The New York Times.

A study at Princeton University and the University of California, investigated this by asking some students to take notes at a lecture using pen and paper, while another group used laptops. The experiment found that the students who used a laptop did not understand the lecture as well as those who wrote their notes out by hand. The researchers hypothesized that this was because students who wrote notes by hand had to process what the lecturer was saying and in effect summarize what was being said to keep up with the lecture. The researchers noted that “laptop note takers’ tendency to transcribe lectures verbatim rather than processing information and reframing it in their own words is detrimental to learning.”

Another study by researchers at York University and McMaster University tested students by asking them to look up things on their laptop that were unrelated to their lecture, like cinema session times. Unsurprisingly, they didn’t remember as much of the lecture, and those sitting near them were adversely affected too. Further, a study from the United States Military Academy tested students’ achievements in an economics class by comparing the performance of students based on whether laptops or tablets were restricted, unrestricted, or not permitted at all. The study found that the students who did not have access to a device performed significantly better than those who did.

There’s also evidence that writing by hand improves motor skills, memory, and creativity. So, the next time you think about lugging your laptop into class or a meeting for the purposes of taking notes, maybe bring a notebook and pen instead.

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