Why My Students have to Hand Write their Notes

Students are desperate to take pictures of the board rather than writing things down. They beg to use laptops to email themselves notes. Here’s why I don’t let them.

When students write their notes on laptops, they tend to write more notes and even try to get everything down verbatim. This is not necessary, nor does it aid memory. Students who handwrite their notes use their own handwriting, shorthand and organization, so these notes tend to contain better memory cues.

Doing more in less time is not necessarily a great thing for learning.


Research studies have found that students learn better and retain more information when they write it down by hand. The connection between the movement of your hand and your ability to recall information later is strong. Students who write notes on paper perform better on tests than students who type their notes on laptops. Studies have found that students who take notes by hand have stronger conceptual understanding as well as ability to recall details.


These studies didn’t even include laptops that were connected to the internet. Of course, when the internet if a factor, all bets are off. Students will spend all the time they can avoiding their work at hand.

I think it’s fine if students take pictures of projects and homework assignments. Personally, I organize my life with technology, using my phone’s calendar to sync to my computer calendar, making lists, taking pictures of things I need to remember, like my parking spot, and so on. But for learning new material, there is only one way students will be taking notes: by hand.

One thought on “Why My Students have to Hand Write their Notes

  1. Apparently, there is a professor at Harvard (I think) who has made a reputation for himself because he won’t let his students type their notes. They are required to not only handwrite their notes, but write in cursive.


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