At first glance, when I stroll into my favorite coffee shoppe to order a Pumpkin-Spice-Double-Mocha-Half-Caf-Latte (yum) I see other customers mulling about, waiting for their cup of salvation, and passing the time texting on their cell phones. A second glance shows serious writers tucked in a corner tapping away on their laptops and tablets doing…what?…homework assignments, tomorrow’s lesson plans, perhaps even research? But a closer look reveals there’s also plenty of paper here too…being used by – what shall we call them? Cursive Connoisseurs? Digital Dinosaurs?
An interesting phenomenon researched and published in the professional Journal Psychological Science shows students have much better lecture comprehension, retention, and emotional satisfaction when taking pen in hand and scribbling notes on paper.
Think Moleskine notebooks, Franklin planners, and yellow legal pads. It turns out ‘analog” note takers are synthesizing rather than transcribing. That process has a name: Desirable Difficulty – some small challenge set in the students’ path that actually improves their understanding of the topic. So if you really want to learn something, ditch the common-place digital gadgets and use a modern-day curiosity: pen and paper.