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  • Dr Paul Penn

Taking notes: laptop vs. longhand.

In this video I examine some key research that has compared laptop vs. longhand notetaking of lecture material and consider its implications for your notetaking practices generally.

0:00 – Introduction

0:38 – The well-publicised Mueller & Oppenheimer (2014) ‘The pen is mightier than the keyboard study

5:14 – The Morehead et al. (2019) attempt to replicate the Mueller & Oppenheimer.

6:20 – The likely reason for the failure to replicate the findings of the Mueller and Oppenheimer study.

7:29 – The need for studies on note-taking practices to reflect the conditions under which students now take notes on lectures.

8:15 - The take home messages for your note-taking practices.


Bednall, T. C., & James Kehoe, E. (2011). Effects of self-regulatory instructional aids on self-directed study. Instructional Science, 39(2), 205-226.

Bretzing, B. H., & Kulhavy, R. W. (1979). Notetaking and depth of processing. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 4(2), 145-153.

Morehead, K., Dunlosky, J., & Rawson, K. A. (2019). How much mightier is the pen than the keyboard for note-taking? A replication and extension of Mueller and Oppenheimer (2014). Educational Psychology Review, 31(3), 753-780.

Morehead, K., Dunlosky, J., Rawson, K. A., Blasiman, R., & Hollis, R. B. (2019). Note-taking habits of 21st century college students: implications for student learning, memory, and achievement. Memory, 27(6), 807-819.

Mueller, P. A., & Oppenheimer, D. M. (2014). The pen is mightier than the keyboard: Advantages of longhand over laptop note taking. Psychological science, 25(6), 1159-1168.

Ozgungor, S., & Guthrie, J. T. (2004). Interactions among elaborative interrogation, knowledge, and interest in the process of constructing knowledge from text. Journal of Educational Psychology, 96(3), 437.

Ragan, E. D., Jennings, S. R., Massey, J. D., & Doolittle, P. E. (2014). Unregulated use of laptops over time in large lecture classes. Computers & Education, 78, 78-86.

Addendum: If you're interested in a study comparing laptop vs longhand note-taking in children (as opposed to undergraduates) here is a reference you might like to read.

Horbury, S. R., & Edmonds, C. J. (2021). Taking class notes by hand compared to typing: Effects on children’s recall and understanding. Journal of Research in Childhood Education, 35(1), 55-67.

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