Besides your note-taking system itself, another choice you have to make when taking notes is whether to use plain old paper or a computer. Each method has its benefits and drawbacks.
Taking notes on your computer will typically be much faster than writing them out by hand, and you won’t have to deal with hand cramps. Paper, however, is much better for drawing diagrams and pictures – and for math notes, it’s the clear winner.
However, what I want to really focus on in this section is the question of which method is better for learning. I came across some interesting research a while back that was published in a journal called Psychological Science.
“In the research trial, students who took their notes longhand wrote on average of 173 words compared to computer note takers who wrote 310. Students who typed their notes were also more likely to take down notes word-for-word.”
A lot of students think that they’re better off if they record every word that’s said in the lecture, and at first this seems logical – if you write down everything, that means you captured it all right?
In reality, though, students who do this actually learn less – and here’s why. When you’re taking notes and a new idea is presented in class, it has to pass through your ears or eyes, and then go through your brain for processing before it ends up in your notes.
When that idea hits your brain, that grey goo up in your skull pays attention to two things:
- Syntax 語法
the auditory sounds or printed letters/symbols that make up the message
- Meaning 意涵
the actual “meat” of the idea, and how it connects to other ideas
Say, for example, that your professor puts up on the board the sentence, “Megatron is a Decepticon.” She tells you this because she is awesome and for some reason you’re taking an entire class on Transformers.
When each of these words enters your brain, it’ll process the symbols that make them up, recognize that they represent certain concepts, and given enough time, connect those concepts to one another as the sentence suggests. Since your brain is a giant, interconnected web of ideas, it’ll also connect these concepts to other nodes in the web that were already there.
It’ll connect Megatron to the Transformer node, which itself is connected to nodes like “robot”, “TV show”, and “Shia Labeouf is a terrible actor.” (Ok, he wasn’t too bad in Eagle Eye…)
Decepticon will be connected to the Transformer node as well, but your brain will also connect it to nodes like “group,” which itself may be connected to nodes like “reductionism” and “Power Rangers”.
Here’s the thing: All of this happens when your brain processes the meaning. At the same time, part of your brain power is processing the syntax of the message so it can direct your hands to write or type it in your notes.
If you devote too much brainpower to processing syntax – that is, if you’re trying to record everything in the lecture word-for-word – then there’s no brainpower left over for processing meaning. You don’t make any of those connections. At this point, you have basically become an unpaid court stenographer.
Going back to the research I cited, the students who typed their notes were much more susceptible to falling into the pattern of copying down lecture material word for word – hence their negatively impacted learning ability.
The lesson here is to be deliberate about learning – especially if you choose to take your notes on a computer. Since you can type much faster than you write, you have to exercise more vigilance and focus harder on actually learning the material – and leaving out extraneous details that only waste your time.
[10 Steps To Earning Awesome Grades (十步驟取得極好的成績)] 介紹
第二步：Take More Effective Notes (做更有效率的筆記)
- [第二步-做更有效率的筆記] 介紹
- [第二步-做更有效率的筆記] 大綱法(The Outline Method)
- [第二步-做更有效率的筆記] 康乃爾筆記法(The Cornell Method)
- [第二步-做更有效率的筆記] 心智圖(The Mind Map Method)
- [第二步-做更有效率的筆記] The Flow Method
- [第二步-做更有效率的筆記] 「寫在投影片上」法 (The “Write on the Slides” Method)
- [第二步-做更有效率的筆記] 紙本筆記 v.s. 筆記型電腦(Paper Notebooks vs. Laptops)