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Typing vs. Handwriting: Which Is Better for Your Memory?

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In an age where your phone can scan your face
and buttons are becoming obsolete, who thinks of writing anything by hand anymore? I know it feels archaic to pick up a pencil
and use, ugh, lead, but writing down your notes could help you pass your classes. Note-taking is very difficult. You have to listen, understand, and transcribe
concepts all at the same time. As technology integrates more and more into
classrooms, computers have become the new notebooks. So we’re not writing things down or summarizing,
we’ve completely changed how we encode information. Somewhere down the line the emphasis for perfect
cursive faded, and kids were taught to type; as fast, and as accurately as they could. A lot of college students now note-take on laptops. However, typing leads to copying a lecture
verbatim, and one study found that when students do that they perform worse on tests that involve
conceptual thinking. So, to understand the best way to take notes,
you have to get what note-taking is all about in the brain. There are two ways researchers think note-taking
affects your learning: “the encoding hypothesis” and the “external storage hypothesis.” Encoding: is when, during the note-taking
process, you listen and understand what’s being said, then write down what you can in
the time allotted before the speaker moves on. It’s tough. External storage is your brain storing information
outside of itself, so it can retrieve it later. Ok, ok, I know we all thought typing verbatim
could help us study better. It’s better “external storage” than
my slow scribbles! Right? You may not be paying super close attention
DURING the lecture, but you can totally review it later and it’s word for word and that’s great? Right? Sort of. When you’re writing out notes, although
you’re writing fewer words than typing verbatim, your brain is actively summarizing lecture
material. You’re encoding messages onto paper. Then when you re-read the handwritten material
“enhanced encoding,” meaning you’re both encoding and storing the knowledge externally. This is considered a “superior” method for concepts. Why? We don’t really know. What we do know is, reviewing typed notes
within 24 hours does helps you retain information. Because 19th-century memory theories from
Hermann Ebbinghaus showed, over time, if we don’t make an effort to RETAIN information,
we LOSE the data on an exponential basis; this is called Ebbinghaus’ Forgetting Curve. Unless you constantly review that material,
your ability to remember new material will continue to decline over time. It’s like a muscle, to learn requires practice! In the end, physical handwriting works well
for concepts because your brain is forced to summarize your lesson before you jot it
down. However, laptop note-taking for straight factual
information has equal retention according to this study. So it’s sort of up to you, to know what
you need to remember and when, and THEN you do have to actually go back and read it to
secure that information. The thing is, handwriting isn’t GONE. Now technology has gotten good enough that
tablets have handwriting recognition, and styluses to work with them… so maybe we’ll
see a resurgence of writing! Maybe… Or maybe we’ll see voice recording take
over everything… More research is needed to see what will be
better for future students. What do you think? If you liked this video don’t forget to
subscribe and why is learning hard anyway?! Crystal explains it in this video here. Having the internet at your fingertips in class can cause distraction, but did you
know that you’re not only distracting yourself, but everyone around you is taking peek and
getting distracted too!. It’s evolutionary theory. Stay focused you guys and thanks for watching
Seeker!

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