Point: Should students abandon traditional note-taking?

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Rachel Bernstein

Sarah Hersh, Contributing Writer

The world is constantly changing, and now there are more ways to take notes than the conventional pen and paper method.  Nowadays, college students mostly take notes on their laptops, and high school students often re-create their notes on a computer to make a review sheet.  Students are beginning to prefer typed notes when compared with written ones.

Organization is essential when it comes to taking notes, as it is crucial that they are easy to reread them when studying for a test.  During class, teachers often try to go through the material quickly to be finished in time for the scheduled test, but rushed notetaking often means messy note taking.  Typed notes allow you to keep your notes neat and organized and therefore easier to study from later.

“I have major anxiety about messy notes and it makes it hard to focus, so it always helps me to focus when I type them,” said sophomore Jamie Ambos.

Moreover, if you make a mistake while writing your notes, you have to either scribble out the mistake or erase it.  The pencil will leave eraser marks, and nobody wants that.

When using a laptop, you won’t have any random scribbles or mistakes on your notes to worry about.  Not only are typed notes more organized, but they also provide a good way to study.  Even if a student does not want to bring a computer to school, they should still sit down to retype the notes from class at the end of the day.  This way, students can go over each piece of information on the topic. The curve of forgetting is a scientific way of describing how quickly we forget information after learning it. On the day you learn something, you retain 100% of the information learned in an hour-long lesson. The following day, however, you may lose 50-80% of the information from the first lecture if you don’t review it at all, as any unnecessary information is quickly forgotten. A month after that initial lesson, you may only remember 2-3% of the content! That being said, reviewing your notes frequently and consistency can help you override the curve of forgetting and increase your understanding of the material. 

A computer  can help in reviewing notes that one took in the recent classes, and one can also  make study-friendly review sheets. These review sheets can also be shared with friends.  Google Docs is a popular way to do this, as other people can contribute to the review sheet and fill in any gaps in your notes, as nobody can copy down every single word that a teacher says in class. Computer notes make it far easier to collaborate with other students and consolidate a larger amount of information. 

“Whenever my classmates and I have a huge test, we always make a review sheet on Google Docs together to divide the work evenly and to help study for the test,” said sophomore Emily Edwards.

Although many recommend using a pen and paper to write notes, it is more helpful to use a laptop so students and their friends can collaborate more easily when it is time to study for an exam.

Spelling can be a terrible problem while taking notes by hand for many students.  Teachers often do not allow enough time to make sure notes are written correctly, and many students end up guessing on their spelling.  When going back to read notes after taking them in a rush and not taking the time to make sure spelling is correct, students have no idea what the teacher really said.  A word or name could be spelled completely wrong, and the sentence written might not even make sense.  When using a laptop to write notes, however, spell-check can fix misspelled words and incorrect grammar.  In addition, you can change font size and increase margins to allow for more notes to be typed on a page.

Spell-check can be extremely useful when typing notes for an important vocabulary word or the name of an important person.

“I have the worst spelling ever so it always helps me to use spell check when typing my notes,” said sophomore Hayley Korn. 

Many people are embarrassed to admit it, but students lose notes all the time.  It can be extremely nerve-racking to ask a friend or teacher to send the notes later, and if you’re absent from class for any reason, it’s important to catch up as quickly as possible. To make sure your notes never get lost again, you can type them, and they will always be saved in your documents or on your Google Drive.

“One time I asked my teacher if they could send me the notes, but they believed I wasn’t paying attention in class, so I was scolded,” said sophomore Becca Sanders. 

Finally, if you are typing notes while reading the textbook and you don’t know what a word means, you can easily look it up online. Furthermore, you can also search up more information about the unit you are learning about in class to supplement your knowledge on the topic.  Using a pen and paper when taking notes can also lead to hand cramps and back pain from leaning over, but when using a laptop, your hands tire less quickly.

Many might say using a pen and paper to write notes is beneficial, but the benefits of typing notes far outweigh those of using a pen.