The benefits of taking notes by hand in a digital world

There's a debate raging over whether note-taking at for instance high school or university is more effective in old-fashioned longhand writing, or typing on a device like a laptop.

Creative parenting expert Nikki Bush believes strongly that because of the way our brains work, taking notes should be multi-sensory to reap the most benefit.

She cites a study published in the peer-reviewed journal 'Psychological Science' to test how the method of note-taking affects learning.

'When people type their notes they have this tendency to try and take verbatim notes and write down as much of a lecture as they can'. The students who're taking longhand notes in this study were forced to be more selective, because you can't write as fast as you can type and that extra processing of the material benefited them.

Nikki Bush, Creative parenting expert

In addition to being visual, writing is kinesthetic - it's a movement. While you're writing, you're not doing verbatim, you're actually processing and writing a version of what you heard.

Nikki Bush, Creative parenting expert

Bush makes the differentiation that when you are taking something down verbatim you are simply copying what you hear, whereas writing translates into putting down what you actually understand.

You've gone a level further by embedding it in your memory, by making it your information.

Nikki Bush, Creative parenting expert

Taking in that information and connecting it to something else you know, then you're growing and adding dendrites in the brain... these little roots that are growing in your brain, these little memory cells that are being created.

Nikki Bush, Creative parenting expert

For more from Bush, take a listen:


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