CAMPUS: Bruins discuss their preferences between digital and handwritten notes

As there are varying methods of note-taking, many view the split between taking notes on paper or digitally as the trending debate in the classroom. Many Bruins hold a variety of opinions on the most beneficial and efficient way to take notes.

In social studies, teacher Pilar Svendsen’s classes, taking notes on lectures is optional. After allowing her students to choose whether to take notes traditionally or digitally and posting her lecture notes before class, Svendsen soon noticed the drawback of the freedom.

“Because they can type their notes, some students tend to use it as a distraction,” Svendsen said. “Because I posted notes, some students choose not to take notes at all, and they just choose to not pay attention, then they get distracted with other types of technology.”

Junior Nabiha Jawad takes both digital and handwritten notes, depending on the class.

“If I’m sitting through a lecture and the teacher is presenting slides, I’ll most likely take handwritten notes,” Jawad said. “I’m taking AP Physics, and she assigns a lot of notes as homework, so she’ll tell us to read some chapters in the textbook and take notes. Then, I’ll do iPad notes because those take a little longer than handwritten notes.”

During a lecture, Jawad’s strategy consists of copying the slides and jotting down extra notes. While taking notes from a textbook, Jawad enjoys taking digital notes because it allows her to follow the format of the textbook and has environmental benefits.

“It’s a lot better for saving paper, and I don’t have to organize it all in my binder,” Jawad said.

Despite the benefits, Jawad noticed disadvantages to her digital tools.

“An Apple pencil is nice and feels like a real pencil, but it’s so much heavier. I can’t write as fast during a lecture,” Jawad said.

Junior Tomie Ishimatsu explained that she retains information and content better when she handwrites her notes in comparison to typing them or taking them digitally, which she feels often makes the material easier to forget.

“I personally like handwritten notes a lot better because when you are typing it, sometimes you’re not really getting as much information,” Ishimatsu said.

Similar to Svendson, social studies teacher Emily Haven allows her Civics students to take notes however they wish, but students in her AP Psychology course are only allowed to use handwritten notes from the textbook during quizzes. Digital notes are permitted during lectures.

“Hand-writing requires more effort and processing, but you don’t have the organizational control or flexibility that you do with digital note-taking,” Haven said.

Haven understands that many students prefer numerous note-taking techniques and allows either method for different portions of the class due to the differing benefit of both preferences.

“There is no silver bullet for note-taking,” Haven said. “It’s been a combination of trial and error, talking to students and teachers and research. It changes a little from year-to-year as a result of all of those.”

On campus, note-taking is essential for numerous classes. Many students prefer certain methods of notes over others as they are personalized to the student and their learning styles. According to Svendsen, in order to strive in and outside of the classroom setting, students and teachers must understand the benefits of both note-taking styles and encourage all techniques.

“We need to continue to build a culture where taking notes is effective,” Svendsen said. “We need to be making sure that our students know how to take effective notes so that they can be successful in the classroom.”