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Handwritten Versus Typed Noted


The article titled “Information comprehension: Handwritten vs. typed notes” by Duran and Frederick was published in the year 2013 in the Undergraduate Research Journal for the Human Sciences journal to avail information on the comparative analysis of typing and handwriting as note taking methods. This paper presents the summary and critical analysis of the article. A discussion of the theoretical basis of the papers, the relevance and effectiveness of its methodologies as well as the validity and reliability of the findings is provided. Also, an analysis of the probable lessons that can be drawn from the study, as well as their application is provided.

Major Concepts Discussed and Previous Studies

In their article Duran and Frederick (2013) explores the impacts of typing and handwriting on information comprehension. The article assesses the role of each of the approaches in note-taking and their implications on comprehension. Also, the preference of each of the note-taking methods from the perspectives of the participants involved in the study was analyzed.

The research was informed by the current advancements in technology and its adopting in educational setting. Previous studies such as Robinson-Staveley and Cooper (1990) reported the benefits of technology use in note taking. According to the scholars, typed information is viewed as more superior by the reader than handwritten document. Also, a type-written document is more convenient for editing, proofreading and modification in relation to a hand-written work, making the later inferior to the former.

Despite these positive attributes of typed information, other scholars have reported its disadvantages to the students, indicating that hand writing is more beneficial to the students in promoting learning. Studies such as those of Cunningham and Stanovich (1990) shows that word spelling performance is enhanced when the learning is done through paper and pencil than via a computer keyboard.  Longcamp, Boucard, Gilhodes, and Velay (2006) in their study also reported that character recognition of specific texts was high when learning is achieved through writing than when it is done via typing. Similar sentiments were reported by Longcamp et al (2008) who asserted that handwritten information is better memorized that typed information. Studies done on note taking also shows that hand written information are better recalled than those that are typed. Consequently, cued students who take notes by hand writing are likely to perform better in cued recall tests, than those who type the notes.

The reviewed studies have mostly focused on the comparative analysis of the note taking methods on the recognition and memorization abilities of the students. Minimal information has been provided on the effects of the note taking methods on comprehension of novel characters and letters. This formed the basis of the study by Duran and Frederick (2013)  that focused on assessing the effects of hand writing and typing, as note taking methods, on the comprehension performance of the participants.

Research Methods

Research questions/ Hypothesis

The main aim of the study is to assess and compare the effects of hand writing and typing as methods of note taking on the comprehension performance of the students. the article does not however highlight clearly its main aim and objectives. Also, the authors have failed to innumerate the research questions that the study sought to answer. While it is reported that the findings of the study by Longcamp et al (2008)  was adopted in predicting the possible outcome of the study, the research hypotheses to be tested are not explicitly presented. The development of research objectives, research questions or study hypotheses is a major prerequisite in the production of relevant findings. The research should be guided by the objectives and/or the research questions that the study seek to answer. The absence of clearly outlined research objectives, research questions or hypotheses does not only make the study difficult to follow but also reduces the chances of the researchers to release relevant findings.

The Study Participants

The participants involved in the study were undergraduate students aged between 8 and 26 years. These students received course credit for their participation in the study. The scholars adopted convenience sampling technique in the selection of the students to take part in the study. Convenience sampling technique  ensures that only units that are easy to get are included in the study. Such technique is important in a study where the desired participants are promptly needed at a relatively low cost. The adoption of the convenience sampling by the scholars was thus to get access to the undergraduate students in the chosen institution at a low cost and within a limited time.

The researchers managed to access 72 participants who were involved in the study. As much as the sample size may be limited for a quantitative study, the number was sufficient in enabling the scholars gather the needed data on the effects of each of the two note taking methods on the comprehension performance of the students.

The Process of Conducting the Research

The process of carrying out the study entailed treating the participants to different conditions followed with their engaged in a survey after the treatment. The conditions were taking notes using paper and pen while the other condition was to take noted by typing. The process begun with the recruitment of the participants into two groups, one that will adopt the hand writing method and the other group that implements typing as a note taking method. The participants in each group were then asked to take notes on a 10-minute projected documentary.

The taken notes by the two groups were handed over manually and via email to the facilitators. This was followed with the administration of  a 10-minute multiple choice, comprehension test to all the participants. There after the participants were involved in a survey to determine their preference for each of the note taking methods. The method adopted in the treatment of the participants to the two conditions is in line with the approach employed by previous scholars such as Stein, (2011) indicating the effectiveness of the implemented research process.

Data Obtained

The findings obtained indicates that there is a significant difference in the comprehension performance of the students involved in the paper note-taking condition and those involved in the laptop note-taking condition. Those engaged in the paper note-taking condition performed better than those involved in the laptop note-taking condition. The study findings also show that most of the participants preferred hand writing as a method of note-taking as opposed to typing. The authors concluded that handwriting as a method of note-taking enhances the comprehension performance of students, and is equally the most preferred method for taking notes.

The findings of the researchers of the article Duran and Frederick (2013)  are line with the accounts of most scholars that have tackled the topic. As indicated in the review of past literature, the benefits of hand writing when taking notes surpass those of typing. As much as the research questions, objectives of hypotheses were not clearly outlined, the findings reported respond to the aim of the study. The main goal of the study was to ascertain the effects of the two methods of note-taking, writing notes on paper, and typing notes on laptop, on the comprehension performance of the students. From the findings obtained, it can be deduced that the comprehension performance of the students is high when they take notes on paper as opposed to typing the notes on the laptop.

Weaknesses and Strengths of the Article

The article contains comprehensive information on the issue of note-taking methods and their implications on comprehension performance. The theoretical underpinning of the current study has been vividly explained, however, the researcher failed to highlight the research aims, objectives or research questions that the study sought to answer. Also, there were no hypothesis stated in the study, making it difficult for the reader to navigate easily throughout the paper. The number of participants involved in the study was low for a quantitative research. Despite these weaknesses, the findings obtained are comprehensive and have adequately fulfilled the purpose of the study.

Study Implications and Future Research

The findings of the study indicate the relevance and importance of taking notes by hand writing on a paper. As much as there is advancement in technology, and people tend to move away from the analog way of doing things, it is worth noting that hand writing still play a major role in influencing the learning outcome of the students. Apar from being associated with high memory performance, note taking through hand writing is also linked with high comprehension performance. As such, an ideal balance on the use of new technologies and hand when taking notes should be obtained, to maximize the benefits of the two note-taking methods within the classroom. The current study did not factor in the issue of experience and expertise in the use of a laptop. A high level of experience in the use of technological device is associated with higher performance levels. Future studies should focus on controlling and addressing the issue of experience and expertise in the use of the technological devices, to ensure more credible findings are attained.






Duran, K. S., & Frederick, C. M. (2013). Information comprehension: Handwritten vs. typed notes. Undergraduate Research Journal for the Human Sciences12(1).