Tell Your College Students to Pull Out the Old Pen and Paper, Studies Find

Related image

You may want to tell your college students to put their laptops away during class lectures. It appears the “old way” of taking handwritten notes in class trumps typing notes into your laptop. If you’d like to know why, a study by researchers Pam A. Mueller of Princeton University and Daniel M. Oppenheimer of the University of California, Los Angeles, found that taking notes by hand wins out for several reasons.

Taking notes by hand offers you the opportunity to write key points as you listen, which engages active listening in students. Students are more selective and write down main ideas, and they highlight and circle things that seem to be the most important. The opposite was true with those taking notes on the laptops; they often wrote longer sentences, trying to capture every word that was spoken instead of listening for those key points and adding their own notes to it.

Students often referred back to their handwritten notes and were able to decipher why they wrote the key points and what made them important to know–often using their own shorthand and indicators as to why the information was important. On laptops, the same was not true, as more full sentence notes were taken. Taking handwritten notes also helps organize the material for students and give them a starting point for studying.

As a college professor, I can tell you from experience that I see students take notes in class by hand and on laptops. I can also tell you that students on laptops are also checking their email, texting, and surfing the internet simultaneously in class. These students can miss key points and information regarding assignments and tests. They also lack eye contact and engagement with the professor. Students who take handwritten notes — and students who are good at taking handwritten notes — are often more engaged in class, ask more questions, are better prepared, do better on tests and assignments, and contribute during discussions of course material.

As our spring semester is about to begin, I would urge students who have sat back and not taken notes because professors post their Powerpoints on Blackboard, or who rely strongly on note taking on their laptops, to give the old-fashioned way of note taking a try. It may be worth it to see what happens this term. When I was a freshman in college, my psychology teacher had written a book on study skills, and he taught us the proper way to take notes to do well on tests. I am forever grateful to the late Dr. James Furukawa of Towson University for helping me be a better prepared student and lifelong learner.

***

Stephanie Verni is Professor of Business Communication at Stevenson University and is the author of Inn Significant, Baseball Girl, and Beneath the Mimosa Tree. Along with her colleagues Leeanne Bell McManus and Chip Rouse, she is a co-author of Event Planning: Communicating Theory and Practice, published by Kendall-Hunt.

8 Things Teachers Enjoy During Summer Break

Screen Shot 2017-05-19 at 10.54.16 AM

***

Yesterday, students at Stevenson University celebrated their graduation at our ceremonies in Maryland. As a professor in the department of Business Communication, I was thrilled to see our graduates walk across the stage and receive their diplomas. They worked hard the last four years, and it paid off.

As for my colleagues and me, that means we are done teaching until August (unless some are teaching a summer course). While we certainly have preparations to make for the Fall 2017 semester (and I will be teaching a newly created course as well that requires a lot of work), we are free to do some things we want to do during our time off. I’ve compiled a list of the 8 Things Teachers Enjoy During Summer Break having spoken to countless teachers who enjoy the down time between the school year. Here are 8 things teachers may do during their summer break:

  1. Clean: The summer months provide ample time to get to those projects that have been sorely neglected. For example, next week I will be tackling the dissection of my garage. We’ve lived in our home for 4 years, and it’s time to do some major cleaning—the kids have grown, and we no longer have a need for toys, old sports equipment, and certain memorabilia. Cleaning out offices and closets are also high on the list of summer projects.Screen Shot 2017-05-19 at 10.56.33 AM
  2. Read: During the semesters or school year, we grade a lot of written work, and we bring a lot of that home with us, which leaves little time to read for fun…just ask my book club; I barely have time to finish some of the books we choose throughout the year. Summer reading means we can immerse ourselves into our own pleasures, which includes books we want to read and books we need to read. There is nothing better than catching up on a few good books.
  3. Travel: My colleague, Heather, is off to Italy; others are heading to the Outer Banks; our family is gearing up for another trip to Hilton Head with a stop in Charleston. My husband and I are planning our 20th anniversary trip. Summer is the best time for teachers with children to travel—no one misses school days as everyone is off. Traveling allows us to decompress, de-stress, and relax in a location we have selected. Whether it’s a long vacation or short day trips, travel allows us to become connected to people and places in the most fascinating ways.
  4. Write: Summer allows us time to write, especially for those of us who have to present at conferences, research our discipline, and publish works as part of our academic careers. It also allows us time to write creatively—especially for those of us who have a creative spirit and write on the side.
  5. Exercise: It’s true. I find I have much more limited time to work out during the school year as I have that responsibility along with the responsibility of taking care of my family. In the summer, there is no excuse for not squeezing in a workout, a long walk, a bike ride, or a swim at the pool. Making time to spend on our health and well-being is important, and summer is great time to start making strides towards better health.DSC_0139
  6. Garden: I was talking to my colleague Roger yesterday before graduation ceremonies, and he was telling me about how he couldn’t wait to begin tackling his garden. He, like many others, enjoy the serenity gardening brings us. It’s also a great way to get a little exercise and tend to nature and see the beautiful results of your labor as flowers bloom and veggie and fruit plants provide you with fresh offerings right from your yard.
  7. Reconnect: Being a teacher doesn’t leave a lot of time for social interactions simply because our work and family life commitments can be time consuming, both inside and outside of the classroom. Summer offers teachers time to reconnect with neighbors and friends at neighborhood functions, barbecues, pools, clubs, or at adult socials.
  8. Indulge: Summer provides teachers the time to indulge in our favorite hobbies—and that can involve anything! It could mean attending baseball games, making pottery, taking photographs, running, or painting. It’s important to have hobbies, and the summer months offer teachers time to reconnect with some of their interests and talents.

I know I haven’t hit them all, but I think I’ve covered some of the main things teachers get excited to do during the summer months. If I’ve missed something, please let me know, and truly, HAVE A GREAT SUMMER, FELLOW TEACHERS!

Stephanie Verni is Professor of Business Communication at Stevenson University and is the author of Inn Significant, Baseball Girl, and Beneath the Mimosa Tree. Along with her colleagues Leeanne Bell McManus and Chip Rouse, she is a co-author of Event Planning: Communicating Theory and Practice, published by Kendall-Hunt.