Many students use laptops to take notes in classes, but does using them impact later test performance? In a high-profile investigation comparing note-taking writing on paper versus typing on a laptop keyboard, Mueller and Oppenheimer (Psychological Science, 25, 1159–1168, 2014) concluded that taking notes by longhand is superior. We conducted a direct replication of Mueller and Oppenheimer (2014) and extended their work by including groups who took notes using eWriters and who did not take notes. Some trends suggested longhand superiority; however, performance did not consistently differ between any groups (experiments 1 and 2), including a group who did not take notes (experiment 2). Group differences were further decreased after students studied their notes (experiment 2). A meta-analysis (combining direct replications) of test performance revealed small (nonsignificant) effects favoring longhand. Based on the present outcomes and other available evidence, concluding which method is superior for improving the functions of note-taking seems premature.
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Although Mueller and Oppenheimer (2014) used a delayed test in experiment 3, the delayed test results from the present experiment do not constitute a direct replication of their experiment 3 because they used different materials.
As stated in the Method section, we added questions to those used by Mueller and Oppenheimer (2014). To ensure that any different outcomes were not due to the new questions, we also conducted the planned comparisons based on performance for only test questions that were used in the original report. Conclusions were the same whether analyses were conducted on the entire question set (reported in the text) or the original questions (analyses available from the first author).
Given that our initial aim was to replicate Mueller and Oppenheimer (2014), who did not include a no-notes group, we also did not include this group in experiment 1. We included it in experiment 2 because it could potentially offer insight into the overall encoding benefits of note-taking.
Mueller and Oppenheimer (2014, experiment 3) allowed students 10 min to study their notes. Most participants in the present study took only one or two pages of notes; thus, we expected that 7 min would be plenty of time for study, and no participants reported needing more time.
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Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the NSF. The authors have no financial or non-financial interest in the materials discussed in this manuscript. Many thanks to Asad Khan, Annette Kratcoski, Duane Marhefka, Erica Montbach, and Todd Packer for support and encouragement with this project.
This research was supported by a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant, STTR Phase II: Digital e-Writer for the Classroom, Grant Number 413328.
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Appendix 1. Correlation Tables Within Note-Taking Method Group for Experiment 1
Appendix 2. Correlation Tables Within Note-Taking Method Group for Experiment 2
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Morehead, K., Dunlosky, J. & Rawson, K.A. How Much Mightier Is the Pen than the Keyboard for Note-Taking? A Replication and Extension of Mueller and Oppenheimer (2014). Educ Psychol Rev 31, 753–780 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10648-019-09468-2