Hm. I’d had a hunch this was true, just based on my own classroom observations. There’s a new study out that suggests writing lecture/meeting notes by hand ends up helping you remember them better:
Mueller and Oppenheimer started by having subjects watch a lecture on a screen, and assigning them to take notes either by hand or on a laptop. About 30 minutes later, subjects were quizzed about factual and conceptual elements of the lecture. They found that students who took longhand notes performed significantly better, particularly on conceptual questions.
Something even more surprising happened when the researchers waited a week to quiz their subjects, and then allowed them to review their own notes first. Because the laptop users could type faster than the writers could write, they had taken more notes, which other research has shown to be beneficial. “We though we might see [laptop users] rebound because they had extra content,” Mueller said. But the longhand note-takers still outperformed them. “We were really surprised that they seemed to not get any benefit from that.”
All notes are not created equal. Because laptop users are better able to keep up with the pace of speech, it turns out, they are more susceptible to transcribing lectures verbatim, a style of note-taking that previous experiments has shown to be inferior. “If students are taking down notes on everything that’s said in class, they’re just functioning as a stenographer,” said Michael Friedman, a cognitive psychologist who is conducting note-taking research as a fellow at the Harvard Initiative for Learning & Teaching.