Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Another Datapoint for the Laptops Debate

In my inbox this morning was the HBS Daily Stat with the title, "You'll Absorb More if You Take Notes Longhand."  Here is the accompanying explanation:

College students who take notes on laptop computers are more likely to record lecturers’ words verbatim and are thus less likely to mentally absorb what’s being said, according to a series of experiments by Pam A. Mueller of Princeton and Daniel M. Oppenheimer of UCLA. In one study, laptop-using students recorded 65% more of lectures verbatim than did those who used longhand; a half-hour later, the laptop users performed significantly worse on conceptual questions such as “How do Japan and Sweden differ in their approaches to equality within their societies?” Longhand note takers learn by reframing lecturers’ ideas in their own words, the researchers say.

SOURCE: The Pen Is Mightier Than the Keyboard: Advantages of Longhand Over Laptop Note Taking (emphasis in the original)

Wouldn't the same analysis almost surely apply to law students?  Experience tells me that many law students would argue that they are in the minority who learn better through computer transcription.  But what if, given a choice, over half decide to use laptops?  It would be likely that many, if not most, would be making the wrong tradeoff.

Data rarely changes hearts and minds.  As a result, there is likely a gap between maximum learning/knowledge worker productivity and what we are able to accomplish in an education or  workplace setting.  Why?  People like what they are used to and rationalize why data does not apply to them.  There is a solution to dilemma, I suspect.  We just have not found it yet. 

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/legalwhiteboard/2014/05/another-datapoint-on-the-laptops-debate.html

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Comments

When I was in law school the bring-your-laptop-to-class craze just started. My tip to current students: don't wait for a published "study" on what works best; just leave your laptops at home. The way to ace law school exams is to (1) read the cases and brief them; (2) take notes in class, if the prof or a student is able to add something that you didn't already know; and then (3) use these materials and put them into an outline form (on your laptop) every few weeks. It's this consolidation process where the learning really happens. So forget the studies, and leave the laptop at home. Your friends may think of you as less hip or tech-savvy, but at least you won't be surfing the internet in class. And you'll be better off come exam time.

Posted by: Michael Cicchini | May 27, 2014 8:19:36 AM

"The way to ace law school exams is to (1) read the cases and brief them; (2) take notes in class, if the prof or a student is able to add something that you didn't already know; and then (3) use these materials and put them into an outline form (on your laptop) every few weeks."

Or spend far less time by simply buying a few Aspen E&E books, working some problems, and using them to fill in the gaps when making outlines. Work smart, not hard. Of course, even with excellent grads (or evaluations, in my case), there is no guarantee of employment these days.

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | May 27, 2014 12:15:18 PM

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