Keyboards may allow you to capture data fast, but if you want to remember what you've captured, you should resort to good, old-fashioned scribbling.
A recent study by Pam Mueller, a graduate student at Princeton University, and Daniel Oppenheimer, an associate professor of cognitive psychology at UCLA, found that students who used laptops to type their notes didn't retain information as well as those who took handwritten notes.
The study found that "participants using laptops were more inclined to take verbatim notes than participants who wrote longhand, thus hurting learning," the researchers write in their report.
Since the laptop users took more complete notes, it seemed reasonable to assume they would have an advantage when the time came to review their notes for exams, but that turned out not to be the case.
"[W]e found the opposite," the report continues. "Even when allowed to review notes after a week's delay, participants who had taken notes with laptops performed worse on tests of both factual content and conceptual understanding, relative to participants who had taken notes longhand."
How the mind works when notes are written by hand may go some way toward explaining these results. "If you're doing something letter by letter, that's a lower level of processing than engaging with the content well enough to paraphrase it," Mueller says.
"If you're hearing the words and just putting them down on paper, you're not processing at a deep level," she adds.
But while handwritten notes have benefits, unlike digital notes, they're not easy to search or to share. That's changing, though, as digital tablets proliferate.
"We're not going to get people to write in notebooks all the time," Mueller says, "so an electronic tablet can give people the best of both worlds. They're forced to be judicious in what they write down but they'll have this electronic copy that later -- with improvements in handwriting recognition -- will be searchable."