Friday, 9 January 2015

Take note ,the pen is mightier than MS WORD

A key skill for professional salespeople is to listen and learn. We are expected to 'take note' of what our client is saying.  Yet wow should we best take note in the world of laptops, tablets etc?

We are also expected to take notes at seminars , conferences and  training sessions

Is there still a place for pen and paper ? An old school notepad even ?

Typing on a keyboard is fast.
Handwriting on paper is slow.

Strangely, that’s precisely why handwriting is better suited to learning.

 Research psychologists Pam A. Mueller of Princeton University and Daniel M. Oppenheimer of the University of California, Los Angeles, investigated just how terrible laptops are for note-taking in classrooms in a fascinating study ( April 2014)

Previous studies have argued that laptops make for poor note-taking because of the vast array of distractions available on the internet

The experiments undertaken by Mueller and Oppenheimer yielded a counterintuitive conclusion:
Handwriting is better because it slows the learner down.

By slowing down the process of taking notes, you accelerate learning.

Transcribing is not the same as learning, it turns out.

The reasoning runs  something like this.

And yes, there are some who still "write in stone." on real tablets
This craftsman was at work on January 6th 2015 
at Southwark Cathedral, London
With typing  one is able record  almost every word that the client / lecturer utters. The point is, that transcription process doesn’t require any critical thinking.

So while you’re putting the words down on a  MS Word page, your brain doesn’t have to engage with the material.

Learning science reveals, if you’re not signalling that the material is important to your brain, it will discard the lecture from memory for the sake of efficiency.

But if you are taking notes by hand, you won’t be able to write down every word the speaker says. Instead, you’ll have to look for

  •  Key points,
  •  summarize concepts,
  • and ask questions about what you don’t understand.


This requires more effort than just typing every word out — and the effort is what helps cement the material in your memory. The more effort you put into understanding something, the stronger signal you’re giving your brain that it’s worth remembering.

 Mueller and Oppenheimer conclude that for students, “transcrib[ing] lectures verbatim rather than processing information and reframing it in their own words is detrimental to learning.”

 The benefits of handwriting have been documented by lots of educational psychologists, who have found that handwriting engages parts of the brain that typing neglects, especially areas associated with memory formation.

 French psychologist Stanislas Dehaene told The New York Times, you may want to step away from the keyboard.

“When we write, a unique neural circuit is automatically activated,” he said. “There is a core recognition of the gesture in the written word, a sort of recognition by mental simulation in your brain, it seems that this circuit is contributing in unique ways we didn’t realize.”

The result?

“Learning is made easier,” he concluded.

Related Links

Mueller, P.A., & Oppenheimer, D.M. (in press). The pen is mightier than the keyboard: Advantages of longhand over laptop note taking. Psychological Science.

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