The Best Way to Take Notes for Online Classes

The Best Way to Take Notes for Online Classes
Beth Dumbauld

By Danika Rockett, Ph.D.

How do you take notes?

The right type of note taking can make a big difference in your success in online classes. Have you ever considered how your note-taking method affects your studying? For instance, do you type your study notes out on a computer? Or do you write them out by hand on paper?

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Or maybe you have a hybrid method that involves writing by hand on a tablet with a stylus?

As it turns out, the way you take notes could make a difference in how well you retain the material. According to a recent study by professors at Princeton and UCLA, "students who write out their notes by hand actually learn more than those who type their notes on [computer keyboards]."

"Use a computer keyboard if you want to take quicker notes. But if you want to take better notes, you might opt for the old-fashioned route."

In other words, as Mueller and Oppenheimer put it, "the pen is mightier than the keyboard" when it comes to taking notes.

For example, while keyboard users typically write more words in a shorter timeframe, those who write by hand tend to gain "a stronger conceptual understanding" of the material. This could go a long way towards maximizing your study time, so keep it in mind the next time you're planning a study session!

The bottom line: Use a computer keyboard if you want to take quicker notes. But if you want to take better notes, you might opt for the old-fashioned route.

Read Allison Eck's full story, which explains more of these research findings. And for more great study tips, consider taking one of our College Prep courses!

About the Author: Danika Rockett, Ph.D., is a course manager at StraighterLine specializing in English composition and communication. As a former English and Technical Communication professor, she manages all courses that involve qualitative assessment; she also helps develop and improve course content.  She has nearly 10 years of university teaching experience, both online and in the classroom. 

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