Writing vs. Typing

Lilah Slaughter, Head Features Editor


The age of technology has opened up a new world of learning, with a set of benefits and setbacks for students and teachers alike. Students in and out of high school and even outside mainstream schooling feel the waves lines of coding have made.

Even when presented the option, some high school students just prefer the old-school method.

“I definitely prefer hand-writing assignments over typing them because I feel as though my thoughts flow better when putting pen to paper,” said Sr. Noah Toro.

Not only may thoughts flow more easily, studies have shown that handwritten notes are often better-retained than their typed counterparts.

“For [Pam A. Mueller of Princeton University and the University of California’s Daniel M. Oppenheimer’s] first study, they took university students (the standard guinea pig of psychology) and showed them TED talks about various topics… When testing how well the students remembered information, the researchers found a key point of divergence in the type of question. For questions that asked students to simply remember facts, like dates, both groups did equally well. But for “conceptual- application” questions, such as, ‘How do Japan and Sweden differ in their approaches to equality within their societies?’ the laptop users did ‘significantly worse,’” said NPR’s Rachel Martin.

However, students who deal with sloppy handwriting benefit greatly from the neatness and organization of typed notes at the click of a button.

“I prefer typed notes because I feel I can compose them much faster and with less grammatical errors. I also do not have the best handwriting and struggling to read my own writing when studying for exams is a very significant inconvenience,” said Grand Canyon University Fr. Audrey Chambers.

Although if notes are legible, experienced teachers have seen the benefit of paper-based studying in their own classrooms, in addition to studies recognizing the difference in conceptual information retention.

“ One student, in particular, was in my SAT prep course and wanted to increase his verbal score for the SAT. His goal was to raise his score 100 points (quite a lot of points to earn) so that he could qualify for admission into M.I.T. After one semester of thorough practice with handwriting vocabulary words (definitions, analogies, etc.), annotating texts, and handwriting processes of elimination on the test questions, he increased his score and was accepted,” said English teacher Amy Stanton, who has taught for fifteen years.

For many critical-thinking assignments, Stanton requires that they be hand-written for the benefit of students and to prevent cheating.

“I always write my notes, so (Ms. Stanton’s preference) doesn’t really impact me, but I think as an AP college prep class, students should have the opinion to do whichever they want since that’s how it’ll be later,” said her student, Sr. Ruby Epstein.

Epstein’s prediction holds true, especially for universities that are online-based, such as Grand Canyon University. While students attend classes in person, they are all online-based. Discussion forums are online, so most of the interaction between students occurs over the internet. Textbooks are online, all quizzes and tests are online, and students can expect immediate replies to any questions they email to their professors, which is especially helpful because students don’t have to coordinate their schedules with teachers to meet in person.

“Over all, I have noticed that I am able to manage my time much better through an online learning community. I can work on my class work anywhere, and that makes a big difference in my academic success because I tend to have a really busy schedule,” said Chambers.

While Stanton sees more benefits to learning from writing than typing, she acknowledges that technology can play a crucial role in supplementing students’ educations.

“Viewing and listening are essential tools for learning new information and technology is a phenomenal resource for these. It is important to use technology and I believe that writing, paired with technology, can only create better circumstances for retention,” said Stanton.

Enrolled in online school, Jr. Callen Rothbauer has also noticed the necessity of balance. Without daily interaction in a classroom with teachers and written material, he’s struggled to stay on top of his work.

“It’s much harder to learn online than in a classroom; if I don’t understand the wording, it’s hard to figure out because I don’t have a teacher to describe the process in a different way, a frustration that often slows or stops my progress. I now have less motivation because there’s no interaction, no real reason to do it, and no urgency from teachers,” said Rothbauer.

Despite studies, the debate seems to come down to what works best for the individual student in each academic situation they’re presented with.


+ Audrey Chambers, Fr. at GCU

Interacting with peers in person is definitely important and GCU makes sure we have that capability by still having students attend classes regularly.


. In some cases, I will write notes if it needs to be more drawn out, but being able to pull out my laptop and have all of my notes there works best for me academically.


Ms. Stanton, English teacher at Durango High School

I believe that there is a direct relation to handwriting and critical thinking. When a student connects thoughts to paper, via paper/pen, different neurons are firing than when typing. There is research-driven data that supports the fundamental acquisition of knowledge when writing, versus typing. Additionally, as a teacher, handwritten notes tend to prevent cheating.


/ Another fact to consider, the more frequently that students revisit notes, the more academically successful they tend to be (whether typed or handwritten).


+ There are multiple uses for technology that benefit students greatly. Furthermore, having students type papers is a necessary component for high school and post-secondary opportunities. Using resources, like “grammarly.com” and “turnitin.com” are beneficial for students and teachers alike.


– I do not require that all homework be handwritten, but when students are allowed to use their notes on a test, I feel that I am providing a service to them in many facets. First, they are connecting to the text while critically thinking. They are also improving their ability to recall information. Finally, when notes are handwritten, there tends to be a stronger likelihood that the student will be able to quickly access the information since they have utilized a different organizational strategy than what typing alone could provide. I began teaching before everyone had access to computers, so I could not require that all assignments be typed. Over time, I believe that I have incorporated technology into the classroom and feel that there must be a balanced use of both.



“When people type their notes, they have this tendency to try to take verbatim notes and write down as much of the lecture as they can. The students who were taking longhand notes in our studies were forced to be more selective — because you can’t write as fast as you can type. And that extra processing of the material that they were doing benefited them,” reported Princeton’s Pam A. Mueller to NPR’s Rachel Martin.


“The third study they gave students the opportunity to review their notes in between the lecture and test. The thinking is, if students have time to study their notes from their laptops, the fact that they typed more extensive notes than their longhand-writing peers could possibly help them perform better. But the students taking notes by hand still performed better. “This is suggestive evidence that longhand notes may have superior external storage as well as superior encoding functions,” Mueller and Oppenheimer write,”

– Callen Rothbauer, Jr. in online schooling

“It’s much harder to learn online than in a classroom; if I don’t understand the wording, it’s hard to figure out because I don’t have a teacher to describe the process in a different way,”

“The teachers take two to three days to grade work and answer questions,”

“In school, I never had real motivation to do my work, but now it’s even worse because there’s no interaction, no real reason to do it, and no urgency from teachers. Also, because it’s harder to understand , I get frustrated and just don’t want to continue,”