Commentary

Take note!

Taking notes is part of every college student’s life. If I don’t take notes, I won’t remember anything I’m learning. I’ve realized I’m a visual learner, and I study by staring at and highlighting my notes.

I’ve found that I listen and memorize better when I’m taking notes the old-fashioned way: pencil and paper. Pen and paper, when I remember a pen.

I’ve tried taking notes on my laptop, but the temptations of Facebook, e-mail, Wikipedia and Songfacts can be strong, especially in a class I’m not highly interested in. It’s too easy for students to get distracted in classes that allow laptops, or more recently, iPads. If I’m in a class where students can bring laptops, I am almost guaranteed to see every student check Facebook at least once during class.

On top of its potential distractions, laptop note taking simply doesn’t work as well for me as writing my notes. There’s something about forming each letter with my own fingers that better ingrains information into my head. Even if I avoid the distractions of the Internet, typing just isn’t as effective for my memory and comprehension.

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In my first-ever semester of college, I had a Sociology 100 professor who did not allow laptops in her class. She said that in her research and experience, students performed better when she banned laptops. When her students wrote down her words from a PowerPoint presentation, their test scores were higher.

Looking back over my own college career, I’d have to agree with her conclusion. In classes where I took notes on paper and did not bring my laptop, my grades were higher. In classes that bored me and allowed laptops, my grades were lower, and I didn’t care as much about the class.

Teachers, heads up: don’t count on students paying attention if you allow laptops in your class. Personally, I plan to stick to pencil and paper notes. My hand might cramp after a while, but I’m more likely to understand what I’m learning.

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