Arcadia faculty, staff, and students from across the University collaborated to explore retention in the classroom in an article, “The Benefits of Handwriting Class Notes: Neuroanatomy, Mindfulness, and Anecdotal Evidence Supporting Handwritten Notes,” in the April edition of Human Anatomy and Physiology Society Educator’s Journal of the Human Anatomy and Physiology Society.
Written by Associate Professor of Biology Sarah Cooper, Assistant Dean of Academic Development Linda Pizzi, students Benjamin Arcona ’22, Haley Bibey ’21, Jillian Brennan ’22, Olivia Jarvis ’21, Brady Manion ’21, Sarah Walsh ’21, and Professor of English at University of Maryland Jennifer Wood, the article examines pre-existing studies related to brain activity when taking notes by hand compared to on the computer. The studies found that “students who take notes by hand are more likely to process the content by summarizing or paraphrasing the material to maximize understanding and recall compared to those who use a keyboard for note taking.”
The article reviewed relevant studies on note-taking by hand vs. on a computer and the neuroanatomy of handwriting. Then, Learning Resource Network (LRN) tutors were interviewed without prompting and provided anecdotal evidence that further supported the studies. Handwritten notes not only performed better in student academic performance but in brain activity.
“Our successful students and tutors validate this research by their learning and study practices that contribute to their mastery of the challenging science subject matter,” said Pizzi, who leads Arcadia’s LRN. “By promoting the learning and study practices of successful students, our new students will more quickly pick up the skills and strategies they may not have acquired in their high school experiences.”
Pizzi plans to use this research to guide student study practices at the LRN.