What’s better to take notes with, laptop vs. notebooks?
Notebooks with handwritten notes likely the best choice.
Not all note-taking styles are created equal. Which method you use may depend on the season, the class, or your latest Google search for note-taking techniques. Taking notes is an essential skill in any college or university class worth almost as much as the content itself. Though there are many note-taking styles with little no evidence that they are helpful, science does have something to say about which way you capture your notes. Laptops are out, pen, paper, and maybe tablet are in. Note-taking on a laptop computer is less effective than taking longhand notes by writing in a study by both Princeton University and UCLA (1). Here are some key points from the study any EMT student can use to help when in class and studying:
- Obviously, a laptop will create a distraction if you are browsing kitten videos on YouTube.
- Multitasking is terrible for memorization. Though the study doesn’t address this, the authors point out that most literature on the subject outlines how a laptop distracts us.
- Verbatim notes don’t help. The thought is if you are focusing on writing notes verbatim in your EMT or medic class, than you are not processing what is taught. Rather than verbatim, take notes that summarize the EMT information in your own words. This method uses the brain to process the lesson leading you to think about the concept and extract the parts important to you. It requires active listening and paying attention while actively thinking about the concept.
The researchers wrote that students who had been able to write notes longhand and allowed to study before taking an exam performed “superior” to those using a laptop (1). The EMT will benefit from honing the skill of taking notes by hand, abbreviating and paraphrasing, since we take notes in the field for charting in the same way. It is impossible to take verbatim notes when attending to a patient. So, it seems the “What’s better to take notes with, laptop vs notebook which is better in college?”, the question is answered- handwritten notes in a notebook work best.
Mueller, P. A., Oppenheimer, D. M. (2014.) The pen is mightier than the keyboard: advantages of longhand over laptop note taking. Association for Psychological Sciences. 25(6):1159-1168