To type or not to type: Do students and teachers prefer paper or digital notes?

Kaison Holloway, The Vision Online Staff Writer

With the excessive use of technology in the twenty-first century, the note taking process has changed.  Students now can type twice as much with half the effort of writing by hand.

However, one might be surprised how much students prefer writing over typing.  Out of the six students questioned, only one claimed he would rather use a laptop in class.  

Senior Mason Bayne says, “I type faster than I can write.”

Four other students who were questioned on the topic, male and female, answered "pen and paper" rather than a laptop or tablet.  Students said  when they write down class notes they remember the information far better than when they type.  Students, as well as some professors, feel the same on this issue.  

Rick Sparks, professor in the Mass Communication department, prefers the practice of hand-written note taking.  He provided three key points to support his pro-pen and paper argument.  

He said, “It’s been shown in multiple studies that using a laptop to take notes puts the student into a passive, take-everything-being-said mode, versus, forcing more selectivity [and thus listening] because of the slower speed of pen and paper note-taking.” 

John Williford, professor in the College of  Communication, takes a more neutral approach to the issue.  

He said, “The main thing I’m focused on is are the students absorbing the content of the message ... if they can do that better on a laptop or handwriting is up to them.  I can see a good argument either way ... with the laptop format you can record more information.” 

“It’s too tempting for the student using it to access the Internet, etc.” says Sparks.  

Sophomore Abigail Gaunt said, “Pen and paper because I remember things I write down ... it gives me more freedom to draw graphs and what not.”

Sparks’ final point was, “Laptop or tablet use is distracting to other students.”  

As seen in this informal survey, there are various opinions on the subject.  Some prefer paper and some prefer a keyboard.  According to our findings, the pen is still as mighty as ever.