Web Exclusive: Swapping a laptop for pen could help students take tests

Web Exclusive

(CNN) - Final exams are approaching for students across the country and a new study says swapping a laptop for a pen could help students do better on exams.

Researchers are pointing to this study as proof the pen might be mightier than the keyboard.  Students who took notes by hand instead of using a computer performed better on tests.  Past studies focused mainly on students' capacity to multi-task and the potential for distraction when using their laptops in class.

This new research put together by Princeton University and UCLA suggests finds that if the laptops are being used solely to take notes, they may still be standing in the way of learning as it might lead to shallower processing.  In one study, 65 students were divided into smaller groups for a series of lectures then a test.  They were given a choice between laptops or pens and paper for note-taking.  Students who used laptops to take notes performed at a lower level on conceptual questions.

The more notes a student took, the better they performed, but those with fewer verbatim notes did better than those who merely transcribed the words spoken by the lecturer.  A week after that test, students were given a chance to review their notes before testing again.  Once more, similar results.


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