Discussing each note-taking method

Taking notes is an essential skill each university student must pick up during their time at U of T. The choice between handwriting and typing is a hard one, however. Many people come into university writing all their notes out by hand in a single notebook, only to eventually realize how difficult organizing them around exam time will be. Many others switch to bringing a laptop as an essential school supply on a daily basis. Both options definitely have their pros and cons.

It is proven that hand- written notes allow for retaining more knowledge compared to typing them up because concentration is focused solely on what you write on paper. It keeps you engaged in your learning. Furthermore, when staring only at the paper in front of you, you’re more likely to remember the knowledge gained in class for both the short and long term. As an added bonus, writing notes is a good option for visual learners, because it easily allows drawing rough diagrams, arrows, and charts to better understand the topic.

Some of the cons of hand writing notes, as many students discover, involves issues with speed and disorganization. The biggest drawback is that it is generally a much slower endeavour than typing. The fact that writing takes longer, leads to missing information. Writing also requires excellent organisational skills because when exam time approaches and you begin to review your notes, they need to be neat enough to be read and understood well. If you are an unorganized student, then hand writing notes may not be the best option.

Taking notes on a laptop is also very helpful in many ways. An obvious advantage, as mentioned above, is that it allows for quicker note taking. Furthermore, if you have access to the Internet, you can do quick searches on topics that confuse you as well as find definitions of difficult vocabulary words used by the professor. Another advantage of typing notes is that they will be neatly organized in single files or even documents. You can edit, add and delete sections quickly and efficiently. Additionally, having your notes saved on your computer allows for easy sharing with classmates.

Unfortunately, taking notes on your laptop does have its drawbacks. A lot of the time when students type, they end up taking “mindless notes.” This means they tend not to pay attention to what is actually being taught in lecture, holding too much focus on typing every word that comes out of the professor’s mouth. Another disadvantage can be the battery and always having to make sure the laptop is charged enough to last through the lecture. And let’s not forget, there is always a risk of your devices being stolen or lost.

It’s important to remember that everyone has a different type of learning style. Handwriting is beneficial to students who remember facts and information mentioned in class. If you have a good memory, then you can jot down the main points of the lecture and then expand on your notes afterwards. This way you will not miss out on too much information. For students who tend to forget things easily, taking notes on your laptop is easier because typing is faster than handwriting, and therefore allows you capture almost all information heard in lecture. This way, you can look back at your notes and recall everything learned in class.

If you are a student who is planning on switching from typing notes to hand writing, you might face some minor issues. In the beginning, your hand is likely to cramp, and you might even feel like giving up on notes. But fear not-continue until your sore hand is not an issue anymore, and you will experience the advantages of having hand written notes.

If you’re planning on switching from hand writing to typed notes, you too may face some minor issues. A temptation that you will have to resist will be using the Internet for entertainment or even e-mail checks.

When looking around a typical classroom at U of T, it is notable that most students prefer taking notes on their laptops. But don’t let the majority affect your decision. Both methods have their pros and cons, and in the end, all that matters is the way you learn best as a student.


Featured image courtesy of Jake Wright

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