Results for recently conducted studies suggest that it’s better for kids to keep their laptop aside and pick up a pen and paper while in the classroom.

In India, the use of laptop and tablet PC is limited when it comes to using the same inside a classroom. But, in the US and other developed nations, students use these devices to make notes during various classroom sessions.

There are questions surrounding the use of these gadgets. Do they really enhance a student’s ability to learn more during lectures? Are these tools better than a pen and paper?

The answers to above questions can prove to be disappointing ones for people who support the use of gadgets. Recently surfaced evidence indicates that students who use tablet PC or laptop somehow learn less and score poor grades compared to individuals using pen and paper.

No doubt, students with laptops are those who are serious about learning and have invested money in devices. However, they seem to be lesser interested in study material and can get distracted easily.

University of California’s research

Researchers at the University of California conducted a study on this subject. As part of the research, participating students were divided into two groups. Individuals in the first group used laptops to make notes during the lecture while students in the second group were given pen and paper. After the session, a test was conducted to check which group understood the topics covered during the lecture. It was found that individuals with pen and paper were able to learn more and focus more on the topic during the lecture.

Scientists believe that students who use pen and paper often write a short summary of the lecture in their notes. They write notes after substantive processing. On the other hand, students using a laptop often simply note down information, even without changing the lecturer’s words.

Researchers suggest that students perform two tasks during their lectures. They store the content and store the information in their brain for retrieval at a later stage. Laptops help in storing data in a better way, but students using these devices show worse encoding.

During the experiment, scientists also advised laptop users to summarize the lecture while writing instead of typing the professor’s exact words. But, this did not change the results.

Pen and paper can prove to be better than laptop and tablet PC

The United States Military Academy’s researchers conducted a study on a large scale to understand the effects of tablet PC, laptop as well as pen and paper on classroom learning. Results for this study were recently published by the Harvard Business School Blog.

The analysis was conducted in their introductory (semester-long) economics classes and students were evaluated on the basis of online multiple choice tests.

During the research, students were divided into three groups. The first group did not use any gadgets, individuals in the second team used laptops, while those in the third group used flat tablet PCs that were laid flat on the desk.

After the end of the semester test, it was found that students who did not have access to electronic gadgets in the classroom did better than students from other two groups.

Distraction for other students

In order to understand if laptops can cause a distraction in classrooms, McMaster University’s researchers asked few students in the class to use their laptop during sessions. They were also asked to perform tasks like checking movie times, checking email, using Facebook, etc. on their laptops while professors were teaching.

Results showed that other students in the class were distracted. Those using laptops focused less on the lecture while multitasking and even individuals sitting nearby them were getting disturbed. Kids found it hard to focus on the lecture when their colleagues were busy using Facebook, reading emails on the laptop.

Of course, for some subjects, laptops may prove to be helpful. Gadgets can prove to be superb for students with disabilities. But, as far as typical lecture setting is concerned, picking up pen and paper can prove to be beneficial for students.

Indian students develop better handwriting

Akshara Damle, Bangalore-based psychologist, and Mano Samvaada’s chief interacted with us and shared his opinion on this issue.

“I’m also of the opinion that digital devices are not required for children at least until the age of 11 or 12. These gadgets deprive the children of the sense of touch, smell and feel. At the tender age, kids should always use the pen and paper so that they will develop those kinesthetic skills which will be missed if they use laptops,”-said Akshara.

“When we compare the handwriting of children from India and the US, Indian students generally do better because the assignments in our schools have to be written down. On the other hand, in the US, most of the students submit a printout of their assignments after typing it on the computer. Thus, keeping kids away from laptop and tablet PC until the age of 12 is very important.”

The experiment needs to be replicated in more colleges. However, the available data obtained from research work is good enough to indicate that pen and paper can prove to be mightier than laptop inside classrooms.