It might be tempting to haul your laptop into class, but in terms of learning, you may not be doing yourself a favor. A set of studies suggests that students learn better when they take notes by hand, Vox reports. Researchers reached their conclusions after studying test results by a total of 327 students at Princeton and UCLA. In the first study, students watched a TED Talk; some took notes by hand, others by computer. Then they took a test on the talk, and while both groups were comparable in their ability to answer factual questions, those who hand-wrote their notes beat those who typed on conceptual questions, Vox notes.
Two other studies in the same series showed similar results. In the journal Psychological Science, researchers offer a possible reason for the difference: "Laptop note takers’ tendency to transcribe lectures verbatim rather than processing information and reframing it in their own words is detrimental to learning." Indeed, as an expert told the New York Times last year: "When we write, a unique neural circuit is automatically activated," said psychologist Stanislas Dehaene. "There is a core recognition of the gesture in the written word, a sort of recognition by mental simulation in your brain." So next time you're looking to learn, maybe leave the laptop at home. (Are Tennessee lawmakers onto something?)