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Teaching Tip: The Pen Is Mightier Than the Keyboard?

March 7, 2017

I just came across an interesting research article in the journal Psychological Science that may benefit you and your students. For over two decades, I have wondered just how much attention my operations management students were paying to me during class.

Laptops have been mandatory in Rollins’ MBA classes since 1993. Students were expected to use them for note taking, for Excel exercises, for Powerpoint presentations, and for on-line exams. Were students doing email, were they ordering on Amazon, were they playing poker, Freecell, or Words with Friends? Or, hopefully, were they were taking notes?

For sure, taking notes on laptops rather than in longhand is increasingly common. But according to this article, researchers are now suggesting that laptop note taking is less effective than longhand note taking for learning. Prior studies had primarily focused on students’ capacity for multitasking and distraction when using laptops. This 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. In three studies, the authors found that students who took notes on laptops performed worse on conceptual questions than students who took notes longhand. Their paper shows that whereas taking more notes can be beneficial, laptop note takers’ tendency to transcribe lectures verbatim rather than processing information and reframing it in their own words is detrimental to learning.

Your own observations and thoughts? Feel free to comment!

Source: Mueller, P., & Oppenheimer, D. The Pen Is Mightier Than the Keyboard. Psychological Science, 25 (6), 1159-1168 DOI: 10.1177/0956797614524581

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Supply Chain Management Research

Andreas Wieland’s supply chain management blog for academics and managers

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