A study published in Psychological Science, by Pam A. Mueller and Daniel M. Oppenheimer, suggests that taking notes by hand, and forgoing the tablet or laptop makes for better learning in the long run. The study suggests that since those who take notes via computer can take more down, electronic note-takers tend to write down too much information. On the other hand, when participants were taking notes by hand, they couldn't write as fast, and therefore had to be “more selective” with what they took down, which meant they tended to take down only the most important aspects of the lecture, according to an article on NPR.
The study puts forth that there are two main reasons why old-fashioned note-taking makes information stick better. “Encoding hypothesis” is the first idea that the study points to. This is the idea that as a person writes words, there is a sort of processing that takes places that enhances retention. “External-storage hypothesis” is the second one, which deals with being able to look back at your notes to help with retention and learning for longterm recall.
In the study, the researchers looked at these two hypothesis and which one is thought to be “better.” On one hand, you had the ability to process information, if you took notes by hand, but on the other, you had more to look back on and study, if you were capable of taking down more, as laptop users are able to do more efficiently then hand-writers. What the researchers found was that for hard facts like dates, names and places, both parties did equally well. But on “conceptional-application” of the lectures, the students who had written notes by hand did significantly better than the ones who took notes on a laptop.