Writing, not Typing, Lecture Notes

With everyone, it seems, doing everything on their cell phones, why can't we just type our lecture notes on our phones? If we can't use our phones for taking notes, how about our laptops or tablets? Two basic reasons:

  1. Those who write their lecture notes do better (get higher grades) on their quizzes, exams, and other assignments than those who type their notes on their phone or computer. More about that below.
  2. Bright screens are a distraction for other students and with this astronomy class's material, students cannot afford to get distracted. Don't sabotage your classmates learning by using your phone or laptop.

Two other reasons why using electronic devices at inappropriate times in class can sabotage your grade:

  1. It is oh so tempting to check out something else on your phone or computer (just a quick glance, please!) while you're typing your notes---millions of dollars of psychology research have been spent by software companies after all, to make the social media and messaging apps so alluring, even addictive---that you'll miss something crucial in the challenging class's material while you're checking out that message or social media site.
  2. The brain does not really multi-task---it is a serial processor, so you actually switch processing information from one thing to another instead of processing two things simultaneously in parallel. That switching can be just a fraction of a second for two things you're used to doing but it can be several seconds for switching to something you're not familiar with such as a challenging college class. During that switching process is "dead time" when your brain is not processing any information.

Better Grades for Those Who Write

Writing your lecture notes will ensure you get a better grade than if you type your lecture notes. There is now a sizable body of education/psychology research that shows writing is better than typing for learning challenging material in a college class, especially one focused on conceptual learning. People who write their notes learn the material more deeply and remember more afterwards because they have to process the information more by writing. Here are some webpages for you to read more about why writing your lecture notes is better than typing your lecture notes (all will appear in a new tab or window). These pages are summaries written for the layperson but they'll have links to the education research for you to study more about it if you want.

previous Back to Exam Tips

Go to Astronomy Notes beginning

last updated: May 20, 2019

Is this page a copy of Strobel's Astronomy Notes?

Author of original content: Nick Strobel