You either take your job of learning seriously, or you don’t… – (thoughts prompted by “physical note-taking” studies)

Here’s an interesting item. I’ve seen it on LinkedIn; I’ve read it on different sites; and here it is from the book Smarter Faster Better by Charles Duhigg:

In one study published in 2014, researchers from Princeton and UCLA examined the relationshipSmarter Better Faster between learning and disfluency by looking at the difference between students who took notes by hand while watching a lecture and those who used laptops. Recording a speaker’s comments via longhand is both harder and less efficient than typing on a keyboard. Fingers cramp. Writing is slower than typing, and so you can’t record as many words.

the hand writers scored twice as well as the typists in remembering what a lecturer said.

No matter what constraints were placed on the groups, the students who forced themselves to use a more cumbersome note-taking method—who forced disfluency into how they processed information—learned more.

Now, the point is simple. Take notes by hand, and you will likely learn more. (I assume there must be an outlier or two, but overall, the hand-writing note takers learned more).

I have my own theories on this: you remember what you write on the paper better, especially your !!! and your ***** all-important scribbles. You interact more with your notes on the paper. But, taking notes on screen with a keyboard all looks the same, screen after screen – there’s not much room for interaction with those notes…

But, this is not a post about taking notes by hand. (although, I’m a big fan of this approach). This is a post about this:

Why go to any lecture, class, training session, without a clear intent to learn the most you can the best you can?

If you knew that taking physical notes on paper would help you learn better than taking notes on a laptop, why would you not do this? If you knew that turning your phone off would help you learn better, why would you ever leave your phone on?

If there is anything, any technique, any step that can give you an advantage, to help you learn better, why not do it?

In other words, if you are going to a lecture/class/talk/discussion to learn – for the purpose of learning – wouldn’t you want to be in your best learning mode for such a session.

If not, you’re just kidding yourself.

You either take your job of learning seriously, or you don’t…


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