Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Students Remember Lectures Better Taking Notes Longhand Than Using Laptops

Unknown Lamer posted about 5 months ago | from the blame-keyboards dept.

Education 191

Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "Walk into any university lecture hall and you're likely to see row upon row of students sitting behind glowing laptop screens. Laptops in class have been controversial, due mostly to the many opportunities for distraction that they provide (online shopping, browsing Reddit, or playing solitaire, just to name a few). But few studies have examined how effective laptops are for the students who diligently take notes. Now Robinson Meyer writes at The Atlantic that a new study finds that people remember lectures better when they've taken handwritten notes, rather than typed ones. The research suggests that even when laptops are used solely to take notes, they may still be impairing learning because their use results in shallower processing. 'Our new findings suggest that even when laptops are used as intended — and not for buying things on Amazon during class — they may still be harming academic performance,' says psychological scientist Pam Mueller of Princeton University, lead author of the study. Laptop note takers' tendency to transcribe lectures verbatim rather than processing information and reframing it in their own words is detrimental to learning. If you can type quickly enough, word-for-word transcription is possible, whereas writing by hand usually rules out capturing every word. 'We don't write longhand as fast as we type these days, but people who were typing just tended to transcribe large parts of lecture content verbatim,' says Mueller. 'The people who were taking notes on the laptops don't have to be judicious in what they write down.'"

cancel ×

191 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

"online shopping, browsing Reddit" (-1, Offtopic)

smitty_one_each (243267) | about 5 months ago | (#46924981)

Hey, Slashdot, the rest of the Internet is enjoying your milkshake, and you don't even notice!

Re:"online shopping, browsing Reddit" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46926145)

That's because the current corporate (MS, Apple etc) friendly version of Slashdot is just so numbingly banal all the real commenters have left. It's mostly just an echo chamber of SMM sockpuppets now.

Really? (1)

theshowmecanuck (703852) | about 5 months ago | (#46924995)

Imagine that. And how much money did that cost? [end sarcasm]

Re:Really? (1)

rmdingler (1955220) | about 5 months ago | (#46925149)

Ah, my Canadissourian friend, university currency is of the fiat variety...

One Fiat on a hill is a miracle as certainly as two there is science fiction.

Re:Really? (1)

plopez (54068) | about 5 months ago | (#46925403)

Fiat? I prefer MGs

Re:Really? (1)

radarskiy (2874255) | about 5 months ago | (#46925489)

The Show-me Canuck objects to being shown?

Equations (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46925003)

Try typing out the rapid fire proofs in an engineering class

Re:Equations (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46925129)

Challenge accepted. [sourceforge.net]

Re:Equations (4, Interesting)

docmordin (2654319) | about 5 months ago | (#46925157)

If you're using Word or OpenOffice, that might be a problem. If you're using LaTeX, it's not, provided that you're a reasonably quick typist and have memorized the standard mathematical commands. I ended up typing all of my lecture notes for my statistics Ph.D. classes without much of a hassle. In fact, most of the students in my classes came to me for portions of my lecture notes, as I was able to capture all of the important comments that the professors would make in haste while continuing on with a derivation or proof.

As for a comment on the article, since very little information was given about their testing protocols there may be some inherent bias in their findings. Specifically, their testing methodology seems to hinge on showing that short-term conceptual recall rates decrease when using laptops. That is, the authors don't bother addressing long-term retention and generalization.

Re:Equations (2)

sd4f (1891894) | about 5 months ago | (#46926141)

This!

As a recent engineering student, it was obvious in subjects with plenty of maths and funny looking symbols, that the only way to write things down was with a pen and paper. I just bought exercise books for the subjects where I needed to write.

Main point I wanted to make was that, you could tell that the students are engaged, when there were only one or two laptops or tablets out. If there were lots of people on some sort of computing device, then it was obvious that they weren't listening at all. Next to no one actually uses their computer for notes.

So what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46925007)

So what if they do? Surely anybody who has been to university knows that you don't learn much in lectures. You learn by going to that big building nobody goes to and reading those pieces of paper that are glued together into objects called "books".

Not suprising (2)

DrElJeffe (741629) | about 5 months ago | (#46925029)

Our brains evolved to learn fine motor skills like chipping flint. Writing notes by hand engages those motor skills and that learning process. Don't just go through your book and highlight important passages - that does almost nothing. Take notes in class. Make notes on those notes when you study.

Re:Not suprising (2)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 5 months ago | (#46925055)

When I learned to type back in the day, we were basically taught not to read what we were typing. We could literally type copy from gibberish and get it right, precisely because we were not trying to comprehend what we were typing.

Re:Not suprising (4, Funny)

Tough Love (215404) | about 5 months ago | (#46925077)

It's hard to remember what's in the lecture while you're reading Slashdot.

What you should do in your books (2)

NotSoHeavyD3 (1400425) | about 5 months ago | (#46925273)

Is make notes in the margins. I found my understanding went up drastically when I did that and put down my understanding of what the author was trying to get at in the margin. (Often this amounted to "I bet he's going for concept X that was in chapter 4." and at the end of the paragraph put down if I was correct or not.)

basics (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46925299)

This is basic knowledge, they made me do this in school to help better remember details. It's something that still do off and on to this day. But I learned how to remember things without having to physically write it down. It's basic psychology. Another article to fill to the /. pages that should be filed under DUH!

In fact this is either a lack of focus or someone who figures that they can find it all out later on. In the age of internet everyone figures they can just cheat their way thru everything, or learn a subject they should've been paying attention to.

Re:Not suprising (1)

plopez (54068) | about 5 months ago | (#46925413)

It's called "Kinesthetic Learning" and it has been known of for at least 50 years.

You know what worked better for me then longhand? (4, Insightful)

Minupla (62455) | about 5 months ago | (#46925063)

You know what worked better for me then longhand notes? No notes. Listening to the teacher instead of writing worked best for me. Turns out I recalled things better when I spent my attention listening to the teacher rather then trying to write legible notes so I could read then later.

Just goes to show that people learn differently and making blanket statements for all people gets you into trouble :)

Min

Re:You know what worked better for me then longhan (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46925111)

And yet you must have skipped the then/than lecture.

Re:You know what worked better for me then longhan (0)

Panoptes (1041206) | about 5 months ago | (#46925671)

No, he missed the "them" class. But someone missed the grammar class, perhaps...

Re:You know what worked better for me then longhan (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46925869)

Uh, what?

"You know what worked better for me then longhand notes?"

Should be

"You know what worked better for me them longhand notes?" according to your grammar?

Re:You know what worked better for me then longhan (-1)

mysidia (191772) | about 5 months ago | (#46926111)

ather then trying to write legible notes so I could read then later.

It's a pointless nitpick though. You know what the author meant to write.

Re:You know what worked better for me then longhan (2)

Electricity Likes Me (1098643) | about 5 months ago | (#46925131)

I find this too.

It was a startling realization that I could take notes during a lecture, walk out and not have a clue what was being said - this is handwritten notes too.

So I gave up on notes and focused on the lecture itself, since afterall I can copy out content from a book anytime.

Re:You know what worked better for me then longhan (1)

johnsnails (1715452) | about 5 months ago | (#46925177)

I have a friend with a near 4.0 GPA who is like that. but he knows it doesn't seem to work for most people like it does for himself.

Re:You know what worked better for me then longhan (4, Insightful)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | about 5 months ago | (#46925501)

And this is the key in working with any population.

Some people don't need notes.
Some need anchor notes
Some need to read the book ahead of time and ask questions.
And some need to type things down because they can't write fast enough and miss portions of the lecture.
And some use digitial recorders.

Re:You know what worked better for me then longhan (1)

dwarfsoft (461760) | about 5 months ago | (#46925591)

...and some people spend lecture time at the Pool Table and prefer to learn from the books and Tutorials.

Re:You know what worked better for me then longhan (1)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | about 5 months ago | (#46926007)

Just remember to...

Listen carefully, math on tape is hard to follow.

Re:You know what worked better for me then longhan (1)

Anubis IV (1279820) | about 5 months ago | (#46925213)

Same for me too. Writing by hand always occupied too much of my attention, so I never internalized and processed what was being said very well, let alone get it down on paper in a form that would job my memory of that understanding later. If I simply didn't take notes, I tended to understand the material better, so long as I relied on other source materials to help fill in gaps in my knowledge.

Taking notes on laptops actually did work for me eventually, but only after I realized that taking them word-for-word wasn't any better than writing by hand. But because typing comes with so much less of my thought than writing (I make no claims for anyone else or the general case) and can be done much more quickly, I was much more capable of focusing on what was being said and re-expressing it quickly without having to split my attention significantly.

Re:You know what worked better for me then longhan (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46925699)

Pre-laptop student here. I took copious handwritten notes and found that they were a huge distraction from the lecture! The note-taking thing, I eventually learned, could be a crutch and a sign of unease with the material and lack of confidence in myself. I was paranoid that I would "miss something" and scrambled to transcribe every little thing.

Hugely wasteful. And the U. I was at did nothing, literally nothing to talk to students about these issues.

Re:You know what worked better for me then longhan (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46925219)

Many of my lectures (Computer Science) had lecture slides available before the lecture, so it was just a matter of printing them out and bringing them along. During the lecture this allowed me to largely sit and listen, and take the occasional note where the lecturer didn't stick to the slides, or was a particularly detailed discussion which the slides didn't fully cover. I found this way of teaching to be quite good.

This is in contrast to some of the mathematics units I took, where it was all longhand and furious scribbling, and not being able to take in and absorb what was actually being said. That, or my maths just isn't that strong!

Re:You know what worked better for me then longhan (2)

Moof123 (1292134) | about 5 months ago | (#46925221)

People learn differently. I am like you, I learn best taking very sparse notes, mostly just following the lecture. Occasionally jotting down key equations or highlights. I almost never used my note afterwards, just a way to cement certain things in my head.

Re:You know what worked better for me then longhan (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46926575)

No.
Everyone is equal and learns in exactly the same way.
No one is different.
No one has an easier time learning something than anyone else.
We must have perfectly equal distributions of all types of people in every field of study.

Re:You know what worked better for me then longhan (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46925279)

It was the same for me. Why write notes when I have a book and a copy of the notes online? Hearing it from a professor once was enough, and if I needed to refer back, there were other resources. I can understand taking notes if you plan to spend a lot of time studying since you can't keep up (spend much more time than the lecture length), but I never put in that kind of time.

The article seems a little out of whack though. They say long hand is better since its slower so you have to restate things. I can write long hand faster than I can type by a lot when it comes to the kinds of things I noted, mostly Equations, diagrams, greek letters etc. The rare times I took any notes it went way better when I had paper because it was faster (I usually didn't carry paper or pencils in college, since I generally didn't take notes). Their supposed explanation for why paper was better wasn't true at all for me, it kinda makes be doubt the study. They may have decent data, but their conclusions don't look robust.

Re:You know what worked better for me then longhan (1)

Mashiki (184564) | about 5 months ago | (#46925287)

You know what worked better for me then longhand notes? No notes. Listening to the teacher instead of writing worked best for me

I had a law professor(criminal and constitutional) that taught by example, using case law to explain what happened and why it happened as such. I still remember what he taught, and how he taught it. I don't remember shit on the provincial statues, because of the way it was taught.

Re:You know what worked better for me then longhan (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46925313)

I learned best by skipping the lecture altogether and reading the book. Then I wouldn't get sleepy listening to all the stupid questions from people that weren't paying attention.

Re:You know what worked better for me then longhan (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46925343)

You know what works even better? Reading the day's material before lecture. My calc-based-stat(*) prof (Dr. Green == best prof ever) made us do this; he always assigned at least one homework problem from the next day's lecture. I started doing this in my other classes, and it was like I entered a cheat code that put college into easy mode. I wish I had known about that trick when I was a freshman.

* calc-based-stat = the senior-level stat class for math and science majors with multivariate calculus proofs, not the freshman class that every pre-med student takes.

Re:You know what worked better for me then longhan (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46925427)

I HAD been a no-notes guy for many years, and then I realized that if I wasn't wiggling my arm and fingers while getting the symbolic information, it was going to be that much harder to get my fingers and arm to wiggle with while regurgitating the symbols. Now I pay attention and I wiggle my fingers and arm in tandem. I'd like to thank the association.

Re:You know what worked better for me then longhan (1)

Nemyst (1383049) | about 5 months ago | (#46925495)

I took notes because of the "just in case" feeling I'd get otherwise, but in retrospect I probably should've done just this. I almost never came back to the notes, so all I ended up with was a large amount of (usually unintelligible) scribbling that'd sleep on my desk until the end of the semester. It's also why the courses where all the notes were available online were my favorites, as then I didn't feel compelled to take notes and could instead just listen.

Re:You know what worked better for me then longhan (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46925535)

You know what worked better for me then longhand notes? No notes. Listening to the teacher instead of writing worked best for me. Turns out I recalled things better when I spent my attention listening to the teacher rather then trying to write legible notes so I could read then later.

Just goes to show that people learn differently and making blanket statements for all people gets you into trouble :)

Min

You were doing it wrong. You write nearly illegible notes that take a long time to decipher later, and in the process develop recall.

Re:You know what worked better for me then longhan (1)

Dutch Gun (899105) | about 5 months ago | (#46925539)

Yep, I was the same way. Taking notes distracted me from concentrating on the lecture at hand. The textbooks and handouts were always there to review the material if I wanted, but I discovered that I had a very high retention rate of the information presented when I simply listened and concentrated on what I was being said.

The whole "you must take notes as you listen to the lecture" mentality is horrible advice for people like me who can't multi-task. It was only very late in my schooling that I finally figure this out.

Far too often people make the mistake of thinking that if a learning process worked for them, then it surely must work equally well for everyone. Granted, I'd bet that taking notes works pretty good for most students, but I guess people like us are outliers.

Re:You know what worked better for me then longhan (1)

MoonlessNights (3526789) | about 5 months ago | (#46925585)

That sounds about right.

I always took complete notes, by hand, until I got a laptop in second-year and started typing up the complete notes in LaTeX.

I think that typing worked better than writing, but only because I was doing a verbatim copy of board information and the tex files could be grepped, after-the-fact. I can also type with my eyes closed and I wasn't getting much sleep, in those days.

The friends of mine who just sat in class and listened seemed to understand the content much better (they just needed to be sure to discuss the content or do the assignment before it fell from memory as unreachable information).

Re:You know what worked better for me then longhan (1)

khb (266593) | about 5 months ago | (#46925947)

Indeed. In one of my first college courses we were permitted to take notes in the (very small) margin of the text itself. This led to focus on the instructor and very small amounts of note taking.

In High School I took more notes and learned less.

The best situation was where I took little or not notes, but paid one of the transcribers for the hearing impaired for their professional notes (in those dark days before professors provided pointers to their web page ;>). I focused on the lecture, and a professional took notes. I wound up not using the professional notes all that much (usually it repeated things in the text book ... but for the one time in a hundred that material wasn't in the textbook AND was on the test ... it was invaluable ;>).

The other "trick" was to write notes immediately *after* class. While precise dates and fiddly facts weren't recorded, the overall structure of the lecture and the immediate impressions I formed were there for the recording. This has proved useful in the many years since ... recording the gist of discussions (if I can't remember it 10 minutes after the meeting, it probably wasn't terribly important) ... and sending them out as minutes (soliciting corrections from attendees) is usually far more effective than recording and ignoring the mp3 when trying to figure out at what meeting we went down the wrong algorithmic path ;>

Re:You know what worked better for me then longhan (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | about 5 months ago | (#46926117)

The point is not to write notes you can read later, the point is to involve the fine motor system of your brain.
The learning process is the writing, not the reading.

Go to class every day and dont study for the final (1)

Gothmolly (148874) | about 5 months ago | (#46925091)

I found going to class every day, even hung over, and taking notes in my own hand set me up far better than studying 10 hours for a final and trying to cram it all in.

Re:Go to class every day and dont study for the fi (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46925139)

and trying to cram it all in.

Weird, I heard that not then minutes ago. Hey you wanna speak to your MOM, she's right here!

Re:Go to class every day and dont study for the fi (3, Interesting)

Krishnoid (984597) | about 5 months ago | (#46925345)

I found going to class every day, even hung over

That probably helped, considering you didn't have all those pesky short-term memories from the night before getting in the way of what you're hearing at the moment.

All I can say is: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46925105)

Duh?

My methodology (1)

pr0t0 (216378) | about 5 months ago | (#46925113)

When in college, I would take copious notes during class with pen and paper. When preparing for a test, I would retype the notes over and over. Once I could type all of the notes without looking at my notebook, I felt ready to take the test. This is clearly memorization for the sake of the test, but I retained much. I also graduated with a cumulative GPA of 3.92, so I think it's fair to say my process was effective.

Re: My methodology (1)

master_kaos (1027308) | about 5 months ago | (#46925233)

I was taught something similar. You takes notes, then later on you make notes of your notes, then notes of your notes of your notes, keep going on until you only have a bulleted list of topics, and just by looking at each bulleted item should be able to remember anything
Who knows if it worked or not, my most effective method of "studying" was cramming hours before the exam.

Re:My methodology (1)

JoelWink (1846354) | about 5 months ago | (#46925509)

I remember taking a survey of Western philosophy that I found pretty difficult to follow. The professor tended to ramble and didn't follow much of an outline. I ended up recording every lecture (on an old school microcassette recorder) while just listening and watching, then transcribing the recordings into notes immediately following the class. It was a little laborious, and it wasn't a magic bullet, but I think I ended up getting an "A".

Could be worse (1)

Arduenn (2908841) | about 5 months ago | (#46925135)

It's anecdotal, but some students recorded my lectures using their webcam and failed miserably with their exams. Moreover, some were very persistent in requesting the lecture syllable to be placed on Blackboard prior to the lecture, not show up for the lecture at all and afterward complain that certain exam questions weren't valid because they weren't addressed in the syllable. Yet, no matter how you take your notes, attending lectures is the least efficient way to learn. Giving lectures, on the other hand, is the most efficient way to learn. Many universities have based their teaching method, problem-based learning [wikipedia.org] , on this principle

Re:Could be worse (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46925933)

For me -- and I've been through an undergraduate CS program and EE program, graduate MS EE program, and law school -- the best method is to attend every lecture, as I learn best that way. I take handwritten notes, but rarely if ever go back to them; it was the process of putting to paper what was going through my ears that cemented the material.

I used a laptop for note-taking in law school... I don't think I had as strong recall doing it that way, but having hundreds of pages of notes (sometimes for each class each semester!) that I could easily search for names or keywords was extremely nice.

Re:Could be worse (1)

Electricity Likes Me (1098643) | about 5 months ago | (#46926285)

In my (newly ongoing experience, 2nd degree program) I'm finding that idea seems to have gone out the window. 50-person tutorial classes are just a second-round of less effective lectures, delivering material that would be more usefully provided as a worked-solutions booklet. Waiting a week to find out why you're wrong is also a least-efficient means to learn.

Another study funded by the establishment (1)

American Patent Guy (653432) | about 5 months ago | (#46925141)

You know these people were hired by the pencil and paper manufacturers so they can keep cutting down our forests... :-)

Re:Another study funded by the establishment (2)

I'm New Around Here (1154723) | about 5 months ago | (#46925331)

Goddamn Big Graphite!! I knew they were behind this.

Yeah but.... (1)

MouseTheLuckyDog (2752443) | about 5 months ago | (#46925175)

how much do the students retain when taking notes on a galaxy note tablet?

Re:Yeah but.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46925285)

personally, for my undergrad, I used pen and paper. Now I use a galaxy note tab. As long as I'm using the spen I find them to be about equal. Assuming of course you don't get distracted and start browsing the internet.

Yup. (1)

jpellino (202698) | about 5 months ago | (#46925187)

I often advise students to take notes longhand and then use their tablet camera to collect them, or better yet, transcribe them into a device. Yes it takes time. No you did not buy that device to save time, you bought it to communicate and organize.

Study flawed? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46925189)

I agree with the premise but disagree with the assumption about what students are doing with the notes they have typed. I could take both kinds of notes, i.e., if I understood the content I would summarize in my typewritten notes. But when I got to content I didn't understand, I could transcribe it and, later, go back and make sense of it. So what the study misses is that the transcription notes are much more useful when later trying to work through material.

Notes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46925191)

I found it impossible to pay attention In any class. I skipped nearly every class and just read the books. Not always one way.

Re:Notes? (2)

I'm New Around Here (1154723) | about 5 months ago | (#46925347)

And that BA degree was the longest seven years of your life, right?

Stupid kids (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46925201)

If laptops exist, shouldn't only 1 person be taking notes? Are kids this dumb?

You know what works even even better? (1, Informative)

m00sh (2538182) | about 5 months ago | (#46925205)

The Zeigarnik Effect [psychwiki.com]

Not only will you remember your lectures, you will have constant intrusive thoughts. So much so that you will underperform your current tasks because of the constant intrusive thoughts from remembering your lectures!

Seriously, why in the world would you want to remember everything? You only remember something until the task is done and forget about it. That is how the brain works. You only need to remember the lectures until the finals and then the brain flushes it out.

Remembering lots of stuff is like trying to fit everything into the CPU cache. Just the amount of faults will kill your performance.

Another dirty secret of universities is that professors never ever take a class in education or teaching. They are just expected to stand in front of a class and start blabbering. Most professors have very little clue about what they are doing. Most classes I have attended (or given) have a hodgepodge of the textbook content, random things that the lecturer is personally interested in and filler - stuff there is absolutely no need to remember at all. Most professors are teaching stuff that are so out of date that the only time you will ever encounter it is in books that haven't been checked out for decades. Why the hell would you want to remember this crap?

Re:You know what works even even better? (1)

philip.paradis (2580427) | about 5 months ago | (#46925493)

Why did you attend university?

Re:You know what works even even better? (1)

Bite The Pillow (3087109) | about 5 months ago | (#46925577)

For the only reference you thought relevant enough to cite, it is awful full of weasel words like "may", ending with a solid, weasel free conclusion based on nothing concretely shown. I hope there is a better source, otherwise this ranks near homeopathy for everyone not writing a doctoral thesis on it.

Re:You know what works even even better? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46926599)

While interesting, I don't see how that's at all germane to this discussion. You seem to have it backwards. Intrusive thoughts are explained to be a cause of memory, but it doesn't say memories cause intrusive thoughts.

To respond to your CPU cache comment:

There's a balance here.

1. Not remembering stuff is like reading and writing all your data to tape. Where the tape deck is in the UK and you're in Australia. And you have to change the tapes manually every now and again.

There's a balance to strike.

2. There's essentially a "compression algorithm" that runs when you understand a bunch of things with a pattern.

3. Sometimes knowledge is only comprehensible when built on the framework of other knowledge.

4. You're taking the worst case of education as a given? There's shitty education due to shitty educators; that problem is solved by better educators. What people want to remember better is the good education by good educators.

Mindmaps? (2)

Kittenman (971447) | about 5 months ago | (#46925207)

Anyone use those, these days? Harder (but not impossible) to enter that into a laptop with 'Word' or Google Docs.

Re:Mindmaps? (1)

Moggyboy (949119) | about 5 months ago | (#46925223)

I completed my MBA last September and exclusively used XMind to create mindmaps during lectures for three years. I found that by doing this I was constantly reorganizing, reframing and categorizing information, and retained a hell of a lot of it as a result.

Re:Mindmaps? (1)

sbditto85 (879153) | about 5 months ago | (#46925807)

Disclaimer: I work for LucidChart

Have you tried using www.lucidchart.com? Here try the demo https://www.lucidchart.com/doc... [lucidchart.com] then go to more shapes and turn on the mind map library.

So it has nothing to do with the laptop... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46925235)

So to summarize the findings, it has fuck-all to do with the laptop and more to do with taking notes in a stupid way. Headline should read "Students remember lectures better when they take notes than when they take dictation".

I bet for their next study they can look at which is better for reading books: screens or books. And it turns out if you "read" the book by spinning the mouse wheel, you don't remember very much; amazing!

Then we can compare depth of friendship between people online versus real life. It turns out if your sole interaction is spamming each other with funny cat videos, you don't know much about their personal life; amazing!

huh? (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 5 months ago | (#46925237)

If you had a laptop sitting there, why the hell would you be typing in notes instead of recording the entire lecture to your drive?

Personally I dont get a damned thing from lectures. Some dude speaking at me while I have no real ability to stop and ask substantiative questions is pointless. Watching a video later, or on-line so I can pause to get me questions answered via google is the the next best thing to having a tutor or being an apprentice. I guess some peoples minds just work different.

Re:huh? (1)

Electricity Likes Me (1098643) | about 5 months ago | (#46926307)

Lectures work really really well when you need to have a conceptual understanding of a subject. I always found biology lectures useful, because the subject is extremely concept oriented and you need to understand that. Same with chemistry, and the same with physics - interestingly.

What I've found absolutely doesn't work for me is mathematics (and mathematics heavy subject) lectures. I have no idea how anyone learns a thing from lectures on mathematics. At least in first and second year, my experience of mathematics lectures was me trying very hard to follow them, missing 1 item and being lost for the entire lecture. Nothing past that point connected with anything, because we were suddenly well away from "this is how this framework fits together and why" and back into "just remember this is what happens" - which I really can't do in a lecture setting.

I'm willing to accept this may be a quirk on my part, but mathematics taught from a definitionally-heavy perspective seems to be about the most useless thing I can have lectured at me in rapid-fire. The pattern of "answers only in tutorials" makes it even worse, since then we're well onto "please wait a week to discover your entire understanding is wrong".

Well ... Yea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46925239)

But the Profs who are zonkered out on meth and cocaine and boozed up will not remember it or anything at all ! What about them !

LOL

Ha ha

What about online video lecturers vs big classes (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 5 months ago | (#46925249)

What about online video lecturers vs big classes.

What about lecturers where they just read from the book and that's it?

What about lecturers where the only real value is the grade from showing up?

Re:What about online video lecturers vs big classe (1)

Rob the Bold (788862) | about 5 months ago | (#46925311)

What about lecturers where the only real value is the grade from showing up?

That kinda answers itself, doesn't it?

Is it in a university's best interest to record? (1)

GoodNewsJimDotCom (2244874) | about 5 months ago | (#46925297)

What if a university did mandatory recording of every lecture and posted them online? Besides forcing their professors to always be politically correct and watching what they say, what other bad things would this do? I think it could educate people who aren't even those classes. You could even post them for people to listen who don't even go to your college. But would this shoot colleges in the foot? Would people continue to pay for secondary education if everything was available for free online?

Re:Is it in a university's best interest to record (1)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | about 5 months ago | (#46925607)

It's pretty much going to happen anyway, not every academic can be tenured or make a career out of it. The only things that couldn't really be done online are lab work and exams.

Re:Is it in a university's best interest to record (1)

Electricity Likes Me (1098643) | about 5 months ago | (#46926315)

UNSW actually is trying to do this, but so far it seems very opt-in. If you use overhead projectors then it doesn't go into the recording.

I suspect they are allowing the system to be way too cooperative with the lecturers where it should probably be a little more adversarial - ensure nothing used to present in that room isn't recorded.

Re:Is it in a university's best interest to record (1)

HJED (1304957) | about 5 months ago | (#46926455)

No, they're just being cheap by not installing cameras in every lecture theatre. I've yet to have any lecturers who has turned the system off though.

Re:Is it in a university's best interest to record (2)

mysidia (191772) | about 5 months ago | (#46926317)

What if a university did mandatory recording of every lecture and posted them online?

Can't post them online without permission from the presentor, due to their copyright.

Some professors have even gone so far as to force students [slashdot.org] to turn in all their notes at the end of the semester, for destruction, and file lawsuits against professional notetakers [wired.com] .

Re:Is it in a university's best interest to record (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46926423)

Monash University records the vast majority of lectures online, and has done for many years. A useful resource if you cannot make a lecture due to illness.

Re:Is it in a university's best interest to record (1)

HJED (1304957) | about 5 months ago | (#46926445)

My university does this (records sound and computer screens so not always useful), a very small number of lecturers turn it off. It is good for catching up or reviewing a topic, but I tend to find that the face to face lecturers allow me to learn better. (And I take notes on my laptop)
One of my lecturers has gone further and recorded all of his lecturers with videos, it allows the course to cover more content as the pre-recorded lectures don't take up class time where extension lecturers and some repeat content is provided.

Differing experience. (1)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | about 5 months ago | (#46925301)

I found that writing long or shorthand dampened my learning experience.

However, I'm pretty sure I'm an edge case. I had years of experience at call centers prior.

Taking notes is pointless (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46925367)

From early childhood to my Phd degree, I was instructed to take copious notes. Turns out all classroom notes I took throughout my life were never needed. With the benefit of hindsight, its better to mentally focus on lectures and refrain from notetaking!

No shit Sherlock, lol. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46925417)

No shit Sherlock, lol.

Helpful Distractions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46925555)

I know that for me, sitting in the back of the classroom playing minesweeper actually helped me pay closer attention to the lecture. In fact, I was usually the only one in the class paying enough attention to be able to answer questions. For some reason, I am able to stay more focused when I have 2 tasks occupying my mind. If there's only one thing I'm trying to focus on, my mind tends to wander. Similarly, I find listening to audiobooks and/or podcasts not only helps me stay awake and alert on long car drives, but driving also improves my retention of the content.

Dumb. (2)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about 5 months ago | (#46925609)

So, let me get this straight. You get the professors to repeatedly deliver a long winded lecture to a room full of students. Each student must record important bits of the lecture as notes. Then you assign work for them to do on their own and gague the degree of their inability to cope with the most moronic "learning program" in the universe? Dumb.

Take a step back for a second, look at the big picture, and THINK. You have technology now, USE it. Wouldn't it be better to Record a good lecture by the professor once, (update recording on changes, to include clarifications or additional info if needed)? Then you can assign each student to watch the lecture on their own time thus decentralizing the primary training set consumption. The students can pause, rewind, etc. and write down any questions they have about answering some example questions at the lecture end. Then the Professor and Students meet to DISCUSS the Lecture they already consumed and clarify any questions, aiming to work out any misunderstandings BEFORE you assign them a task to gauge the degree of knowledge they have now learned?

It's like you're purposefully trying not to divide information over space-time properly. It's fucking Pathetic, and you should be ashamed.

Re:Dumb. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46926199)

A good lecturer doesn't deliver the same lecture every time. They react to the audience, answer specific questions etc.

I have watched plenty of recorded lectures, and sat in plenty of lecture theatres. The real thing just works better.

Re:Dumb. (2)

Electricity Likes Me (1098643) | about 5 months ago | (#46926339)

The missing part of your argument I think is not just "1 professor".

What you want to do is get a whole bunch to record the relevant lectures - ideally people who are very diverse in style. Then let the students pick the one they find works best for them.

Of course you could then take this further: have a project to post-process and bookmark the content covered in each section, so if you're struggling with a concept then you get a splay of dozens of that same lecture over the years, from different people, so you can go through them and try and find the nuance which let's you actually grok the concept you're missing.

The part of the argument which explains why this will never happen in the current environment is where you want to use tutorial classes for properly consuming content. My tutorial classes at the moment are 50 people or so. 30 seems to be the smallest. They're not tutorials, they're just some weird version of regular high school classes and it's all specifically blameable on budget cutting.

Taking notes is an art (1)

msobkow (48369) | about 5 months ago | (#46925625)

The idea is not to write down what the lecturer says as fast as possible, but rather to pay attention to what they are saying, think about it briefly, rephrase it in your mind, and write down a brief summary note about the point that was made. Sure you have to write down formulas and equations accurately, but that's not "taking notes" -- it's copying from the board/overhead/projector.

When it came time to study, I'd rewrite and condense my notes even further.

By the time I got the notes for a semester class down to a few pages of tightly cribbed notes and shorthand, I had the material down more than well enough to pass the exam. Because I'd thought and rethought about it, not because I'd mindlessly copied material.

Re:Taking notes is an art (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46926579)

The idea is to have the lecturer make his damn slides available on blackboard.

record everything always (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46925645)

Recording lectures verbatim and rewatching them rather than jotting notes down live is better yet. You can jot notes down ad infinitum if you have the lecture recorded

Students Remember Lectures Better Taking Notes Lon (1)

danielpauldavis (1142767) | about 5 months ago | (#46925667)

Obviously because writing involves the kinesthetic as well as auditory learning. The rule is is that you don't konw what you hear or see, but only what you DO. Writing (not typing) is DOING something with the knowledge, and that's what's remembered.

And yet again (1)

Sir Holo (531007) | about 5 months ago | (#46925673)

I noticed this 20 years ago, when students who faithfully transcribed notes in class on their (super-expensive) portable computers usually ended up dropping out of EE/ME/etc. and into "Engineering Management," the home for those who couldn't hack an engineering (or straight science) degree.

They had futures either as court stenographers, or as PHBs.

I love physical media (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46925867)

I find that I learn and seek to retain information better when I have a physical real world object; whether it is from my own notes or reading a "physical" book I purchased on the interwebs/bookstore. I seem to recall pages better with the real world copy, visually in my mind. Flicking pages is a breeze and being able to use my fingers as book marks further helps me to flick quickly, also stickies and highlighters.

I have tried digital media extensively, and I find it is great for pulp.

Laptop < Handwritten < None (1)

WinstonWolfIT (1550079) | about 5 months ago | (#46926029)

I went through four years of engineering uni without taking one single note, graduated with a 3.5+. Have to admit I threw off a few lecturers with the intensity of my attention though.

Re:Laptop Handwritten None (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46926563)

I recall several of them did not like it if I asked pertinent questions, such as pointing out a flaw in a checksum algorithm while the dude was mid-flow explaining its innards like it was God's word on CRC. On the plus side the food there was excellent and the labs were open until well after sunset.

The Important Part (1)

HJED (1304957) | about 5 months ago | (#46926429)

"Laptop note takers' tendency to transcribe lectures verbatim rather than processing information and reframing it in their own words is detrimental to learning. If you can type quickly enough, word-for-word transcription is possible, whereas writing by hand usually rules out capturing every word."
So the problem is that laptop users have bad note taking skills, not that laptops cause students to remember less... (Or rather people have bad note taking skills and it's easier to take bad notes on a laptop)

obligatory innuendo (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46926507)

"The research suggests that even when laptops are used solely to take notes, they may still be impairing learning because their use results in shallower processing."

And all along we were told we were shallow if we 'type one handed'. The browser tab or two with, ahem, visual materials were for, you know, facilitating unimpaired processing. I can't see that flying in the Dean's office.

Here's an experiment to try (2)

quietwalker (969769) | about 5 months ago | (#46926515)

I wonder how well they'll be able to remember, if instead of using a laptop to take notes, they use their laptop to recorded and auto-transcribe it, so it can be replayed over and over. So that any parts that cause confusion can be examined until understood, without worrying about missing the next part. Where, with a press of a button, a user can mark the clip with a note; "important part here" or "come back to this, it's confusing" or even "prof says this will be on the test".

Besides, what a stupid study. There are certain classes where 'remembering' is the most important part of the class, but at least in my engineering and science classes, 'knowing' and 'understanding' had slightly higher priority. I can easily remember the last thing I was expected to memorize, with no other expectations - in 7'th grade, US History, I was expected to memorize each president's name and their start & end dates in office, in years. Completely useless.

Is that a laudable goal to test against for college students? That they're being judged at the 7'th grade level?

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>