Educators are eager to know how the computers popping up in their classrooms actually affect student learning. Much of the research has focused on how computers and other digital devices increase thetemptation and likelihood of multitasking, leading to lower comprehension and reduced productivity. But until now, few people have looked into whether the method of note-taking a student uses, such as typing on a computer or writing in longhand, affects how well he or she comprehends the lecture.
A recent study published in Psychological Science confronts the issue head-on. Researchers Pam Mueller and Daniel Oppenheimer asked students to take notes on a 20-minute video lecture using either longhand or a computer that had been disabled for any other use. They wanted to remove the distractions that have given note-taking on computers lower marks for memory and comprehension. “Even if you are using computers exactly as they’re supposed to be used, might that still be hurting learning?” is the question Mueller sought out to answer.
Fascinating study which makes perfect sense. Retention and comprehension suffer when taking notes on the computer. So should we rip technology out of learning? I think the researchers were chasing the wrong rabbit. What if the lecture is just a poor way of disseminating information?