Another dot in the blogosphere?

Writing vs typing: An incomplete matrix

Posted on: September 7, 2018

I appreciate the efforts of the Greens and one of their YouTube shows, Mental Floss. The latest episode was about schooling in the USA.


Video source

Part of the video was a segment on whether students tested better if they hand-wrote notes or if they typed them.

The research they cited revealed that students who hand-wrote notes did better on a test. I recall this research making its way around the Twitterverse and the blogosphere, so it was not news.

However, you should not take the results at face value.

First there is the question of what medium the test was taken on, and if it was paper whether that favoured writers over typers. There was also no mention of the quality and design of the questions to determine if they favoured one strategy over another.

Next is the issue of pitting one medium over another without considering learner preferences and strategies. Consider what might happen if you forced a typer to write or a writer to type.

The video also highlighted how writers might process what they hear more deeply and summarise by note-taking, while typers might resort to recording or transcribing. What was not clear was whether there were typers who summarised and writers who just recorded.

 

Writers Typers
Recorders   X
Summarisers X  

 
In the 2×2 matrix of note-taking method and note medium, only two options were mentioned in the video. How is this rigorous?

If you think about it, the matrix is far more complicated. There are more contributing and influencing factors on note-writing and test-taking. Over simplifying provides easy answers. Easy answers are not nuanced and not always right. Take note of that!

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