Why the Power of the Pen can Make You an Invincible Learner
Cognitive neuropsychologists, Audrey van der Meer and Ruud van der Weel, from the renowned Norwegian University of Science & Technology (NTNU), are experts in the field of how technology and learning intersect. They have studied the differences between using a pen and using a keyboard and how it impacts learning and they have some fascinating insights to report.
Does long-hand note-taking using a pen deepens the mind’s ability to retain and process information?
That is the question the researchers asked and carried out a two-month research project with students. Their project aimed to find out whether note taking by typing versus note taking with a pen would bring about differences in brain activity, thereby affecting a student’s ability to learn.
We learn differently when using a pen and keyboard
The researchers found that when writing or drawing by hand, different parts of the brain were active and in different ways. It was the first electrophysiological evidence that the brain behaves differently when writing or drawing using a pen compared with typing on a keyboard.
The researchers conclude that rich sensory-motor experiences seem to facilitate learning: it is the physical movement of the pen that makes the difference. The movement is picked up by the senses and, due to their involvement, results in different neural activity that governs all higher levels of cognitive processing and learning.
Explaining the importance of the results, van der Meer says:
“This difference in activity is really significant, it tells us that using a pen to take notes means that the brain is able to process learning in a much more effective way.”
Traditional note-taking with 21st century technology
Nowadays, most students use laptops exclusively and type for hours. Are they missing out on something important? Are they learning inefficiently? Should we bring the pen back into the classrooms and at home?
We believe that the pen should be brought back. At Hillview Prep, we use the Microsoft Surface Pro with a stylus (pen) all the time, helping unite ancient method and modern technology. We do not have to dispense off our tablets or other digital devices. We recommend using a stylus based tablet or hybrid digital device for learning.
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