Writing Wednesday: 4 Reasons You Should Go Analog This Back-to-School Season

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The end of summer signals the beginning of a new school year and whether you are a student, a teacher or simply a life-long learner, developing better note-taking skills is always a useful endeavour. The key to taking really effective notes is making sure you pay attention to what you are writing. Using a pen and paper is scientifically proven to be more effective in terms of information comprehension and retention than using a laptop or tablet for your records.

So this year, save money on your back-to-school shopping by sticking to the analog supplies. Here are four compelling reasons why a good notebook and writing instrument is all you need to get the most out of each in-class experience.

1) You Will Understand Full Concepts

In a series of studies published in 2014 for the Association for Psychological Science, Pam A. Mueller of Princeton University and Daniel M. Oppenheimer of University of California proved that students who take “notes on laptops performed worse on conceptual questions than students who took notes longhand.” They found that the students typing their notes were simply transcribing the lecture verbatim, rather than processing the information and reframing it in their words. Rewriting someone else’s words in your own terms forces you to actually understand what they mean – a key part of taking useful notes that will still make sense when you return to them come study time.

2) It Uses More of Your Brain

Why use a fraction of your brain’s power when you could harness the whole thing? Typing notes allows you to be essentially “brain lazy,” and simply let your motor skills take over. Using a pen and paper brings into play the parts of your brain involved in reading and more holistic language comprehension. So get out a pen and paper to keep your brain active and healthy by working it out while taking notes!

3) You Always Have a Hard Copy

Computer issues happen, so it’s always best to be prepared. Taking your class notes by hand and typing them up later will not only give you a second chance to go over the material in your own words, but ensure you have both a hard and digital copy of each lecture. Having a backup will save you the stress and scrambling for study notes if your computer ever crashes, you accidentally permanently delete a file or even if you need to study by candlelight during a blackout.

4) There are Fewer Distractions

A notebook or pad of paper has no access to Instagram, Pokemon Go or Reddit. Sometimes staying focussed is easier said than done, so make it impossible for yourself to give in to the black hole of the internet by removing the option. Focussing solely on what’s going on in class, and how best to note it down, will open you up to a far greater learning experience than accidentally zoning out for an entire lecture will.

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