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J Educ Eval Health Prof > Epub ahead of print
J Educ Eval Health Prof. 2022; 19: 8.
Published online April 26, 2022.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.3352/jeehp.2022.19.8
[Epub ahead of print]
No difference in factual or conceptual recall comprehension for tablet, laptop, and handwritten note-taking by medical students in the United States: a survey-based observational study
Warren Wiechmann1  , Robert A. Edwards2  , Cheyenne Low1  , Alisa Wray1  , Megan Boysen-Osborn1  , Shannon L. Toohey1 
1Departments of Emergency Medicine, University of California Irvine, Orange, CA, USA
2Department of Pathology and Lab Medicine, University of California Irvine, Orange, CA, USA
Correspondence  Shannon L. Toohey ,Email: stoohey@hs.uci.edu
Editor:  Sun Huh, Hallym University, Korea
Submitted: February 1, 2022  Accepted after revision: April 19, 2022
Abstract
Purpose
Technological advances are changing how students approach learning. The traditional note-taking methods of longhand writing have been supplemented and replaced by tablets, smartphones, and laptop note-taking. It has been theorized that writing notes by hand requires more complex cognitive processes and may lead to better retention. However, few studies have investigated the use of tablet-based note-taking, which allows the incorporation of typing, drawing, highlights, and media. We therefore sought to confirm the hypothesis that tablet-based note-taking would lead to equivalent or better recall as compared to written note-taking.
Methods
We allocated 68 students into longhand, laptop, or tablet note-taking groups, and they watched and took notes on a presentation on which they were assessed for factual and conceptual recall. A second short distractor video was shown, followed by a 30-minute assessment at the University of California, Irvine campus, over a single day period in August 2018. Notes were analyzed for content, supplemental drawings, and other media sources.
Results
No significant difference was found in the factual or conceptual recall scores for tablet, laptop, and handwritten note-taking (P=0.61). The median word count was 131.5 for tablets, 121.0 for handwriting, and 297.0 for laptops (P=0.01). The tablet group had the highest presence of drawing, highlighting, and other media/tools.
Conclusion
In light of conflicting research regarding the best note-taking method, our study showed that longhand note-taking is not superior to tablet or laptop note-taking. This suggests students should be encouraged to pick the note-taking method that appeals most to them. In the future, traditional note-taking may be replaced or supplemented with digital technologies that provide similar efficacy with more convenience.
Keywords: Cognition; Digital technology; Handwriting; Medical students; Smartphone
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