Taken together, these recent findings show that the means by which notes are taken (longhand or laptop) seem not to matter much – and for delayed tests and when opportunities for studying the notes are given, not at all.
The original explanation that a longhand-superiority may be due to the notes having less verbatim overlap does not hold because despite finding that indeed verbatim overlap is larger in laptop notes this did not lead to a reliable decrease in test performance later on.
In the new study, the researchers added a delayed test condition, to test if the effect would hold when participants’ knowledge is assessed two days later.
In two experiments, they found that note-taking method had no effect on delayed test performance (factual conceptual questions).
Some concluding remarks The research papers presented above used study material (TED presentations) that are pitched to entertain and present research in a light-hearted way.
In educational settings, teaching looks quite different and the content will be more complex as well.A recent paper by Morehead, Dunlosky, and Rawson highlights this point.They have directly recreated the original study setup of Mueller and Oppenheimer (using the same note-taking methods and study materials) and were unable to reproduce the original finding. General study setup Participants studied a TED video and took notes either longhand or on the laptop.Further, it was found that the laptop note-taking group produced more words in their notes than the longhand group and that the notes were more verbatim compared to the notes taken in the longhand group (although the latter finding was not found in their second experiment).This finding is in line with what was reported in the original paper.After 30 minutes, all participants were given a final test with factual and conceptual questions.Original findings Participants in the longhand note-taking condition performed better on conceptual questions than participants in the laptop note-taking condition.Occasionally, intriguing research findings in Cognitive Psychology get picked up by the media and are blown out of proportion.This usually happens with findings that are unexpected, flashy, and suggest large practical implications.Thus, on a test given two days after studying it made no difference how notes were taken.In their second experiment the researchers allowed participants to study their notes before the delayed test and found that this further reduced differences between note-taking methods – corroborating no reliable difference between different methods.