notes

Photo by Alejandro Escamilla on Unsplash.

They say to see a person’s true personality you should see how they react when presented with a frustrating situation. But to see a student’s true colors, just check out their class notes. 

Everyone takes notes on different platforms, whether they’re handwritten, on a computer, or on a phone app. Some are easier to navigate than others. Taylor Swift said her former crush was the reason for the teardrops on her guitar, but it’s safe to say lecture halls are the reason for the teardrops on my notebook. 

As students, we’ve heard teachers emphasize the benefits of handwritten notes, yet it seems like most of us choose to put finger to keyboard instead of pen to paper. Lecture auditoriums turn into a sea of glowing apples. Cute, funny, and sometimes weirdly inappropriate laptop stickers span as far as the eye can wander. Keyboard clicks amplify throughout the room, especially after the professor finishes a sentence with “hint hint.”

 Some instructors don’t allow laptops in the classroom thinking students will take advantage of the screen time and not pay attention to the lessons. While it may feel like punishment, it may help you be more successful in class.

Founder of the study and psychological scientist Pam Mueller of Princeton University wrote about the pros and cons of typing notes, saying “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.”

Maybe we choose to type out our notes because we don’t want to live out that Legally Blonde moment when Elle Woods gets kicked out of first class at Harvard because of her lack of preparation. She later goes into a stereotypical movie montage purchasing the iconic orange Mac laptop. Does the lack of owning a laptop truly mean we’re ill-prepared? Not according to research.

Studies done by the Association for Psychological Science found students who hand write their notes better understand the course material and better apply their knowledge outside the classroom when compared to those who type their notes. 

Because typing is faster than writing, it allows for you to type almost every word your professor says but can lead to your eyes never leaving the screen. Instead of putting down information to review later, hand writing allows you to attempt to grasp the concept before you decide what to write down. You have to process the information in front of you before you can write it down comprehensively in your notes.

Outlining, grouping and mapping. There’s no wrong choice of format for handwriting notes, only formats that work better for different people and subjects. While the outline may be the most common form of note taking, it might not be the best way to jot down mathematical formulas and charts. The grouping method can help box in your thoughts, but it won’t be great at keeping things in chronological order. The mapping method provides an easy way of adding notes overtime but can be difficult to navigate. 

It’s up to us to choose which instrument will fuel our fire. However, if your biggest issue is finding out the best way to take notes, you know you’re doing well for yourself. 

Congrats.

Amanda Martinez is a senior telecommunication major. Her column appears on Tuesdays.