A Case for Using Good Old Pen and Paper to Take Meeting Notes

journaling Taking notes on a laptop is undoubtedly faster, easier and more convenient than using pen and paper, but a recent study suggests that longhand is much better if you want to actually remember some of those notes. A recent paper published in the journal Psychological Science found that those who took longhand notes performed better on quizzes than those who took notes on their laptop, even when there was no Internet connection.

[contextly_sidebar id="zZ8ZIaX42AgljwGCoJYhPiHOaxjiws2d"] Researchers Princeton graduate student Pam Mueller and UCLA psychology professor Daniel Oppenheimer tested the theory on college students. The subjects watched an on-screen lecture and were told to either take notes by hand or on a laptop. After 30 minutes, they were all quizzed on both factual and conceptual elements presented in the lecture. Those that took longhand notes performed better than those who took notes on laptops, especially when it came to the conceptual elements.

The subjects were tested again after a week, with results that surprised the researchers. It was expected that laptop note-takers would perform better because they took more notes, thanks to the speed at which people type. However, the long-handers still performed better.

“We though we might see [laptop users] rebound because they had extra content,” Mueller said. “We were really surprised that they seemed to not get any benefit from that.”

When people take notes by hand it forces them understand the material to the point that they are able to summarize it, since no one can write fast enough to take notes verbatim. So, the next time you are in a meeting (or lecture, brainstorm session, etc.), try taking longhand notes. It will give you a deeper understanding of the subject matter and will help ensure you remember the concepts a little better.