"Laptops in class have been controversial mostly due to the many opportunities for distraction that they provide but the new study revealed that they are less effective even for those students who diligently take notes."
Washington, April 26 - Taking down notes on a laptop may be more fashionable, but when it comes to long-term comprehension, they are less beneficial than writing the notes on a piece of paper, says a study.
Our new findings suggest that even when laptops are used as intended - and not for buying things on Amazon during class - they may still be harming academic performance, said psychological scientist Pam Mueller from Princeton University.
On conceptual questions, the laptop note-takers performed significantly worse than those who used notebooks on a study conducted on 65 college students.
The notes from laptop users contained more words and more verbatim overlap with the lecture, compared to the notes that were written by hand.
It may be that longhand note takers engage in more processing than laptop note takers, thus selecting more important information to include in their notes, which enables them to study this content more efficiently, the researchers noted.
Even on a recall test one week later when all the participants were given a chance to review their notes before taking the test, longhand note takers beat laptop note takers.
Once again, the amount of verbatim overlap was associated with worse performance on conceptual items.
Laptops in class have been controversial mostly due to the many opportunities for distraction that they provide but the new study revealed that they are less effective even for those students who diligently take notes.
The study appeared in the journal Psychological Science.