Pam A, Mueller and Daniel M. Oppenheimer (from Princeton University and University of California, respectively), studied the impact of taking notes longhand versus on a computer.
Here’s what they found and published in the Psychological Science journal:
“Taking notes on laptops rather than in longhand is increasingly common. Many researchers have suggested that laptop note taking is less effective than longhand note taking for learning.
Prior studies have primarily focused on students’ capacity for multitasking and distraction when using laptops. The present research suggests that even when laptops are used solely to take notes, they may still be impairing learning because their use results in shallower processing.
In three studies, we found that students who took notes on laptops performed worse on conceptual questions than students who took notes longhand.
We show that whereas taking more notes can be beneficial, laptop note takers’ tendency to transcribe lectures verbatim rather than processing information and reframing it in their own words is detrimental to learning.”
In general, the more parts of the brain that are engaged in activity, the more memorable it becomes. Manual notetaking likely trumps computer notes because of our physical experience–we feel the weight of the pen, the smell and feel of the paper. The look of the words on the paper, etc.