Compared to typing, writing by hand leads to better learning: Study
According to a study published by Norwegian scientists, writing by hand activates more complex brain connectivity than typing, which, in turn, boosts learning and memory.
"We show that when writing by hand, brain connectivity patterns are far more elaborate than when typewriting on a keyboard," said Professor Audrey van der Meer, a brain researcher at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology and co-author of the study published in Frontiers in Psychology, in the paper. "Such widespread brain connectivity is known to be crucial for memory formation and for encoding new information and, therefore, is beneficial for learning."
The researchers collected electroencephalogram (EEG) data, measured using small, metal discs (electrodes) attached to the scalp of 36 university students, while they were repeatedly prompted to either write or type a word that appeared on a screen. They used a digital pen to write in cursive directly on a touchscreen. When typing they used a single finger to press keys on a keyboard.
High-density EEGs, which measure electrical activity in the brain using 256 small sensors sewn in a net and placed over the head, were recorded for five seconds for every prompt.
Connectivity of different brain regions increased when the participants wrote by hand, but not when they typed.
"Our findings suggest that visual and movement information obtained through precisely controlled hand movements when using a pen contribute extensively to the brain's connectivity patterns that promote learning," van der Meer stated.
The researchers concluded that their findings demonstrate the need to allow students to use pens, rather than having them type during class. However, they also recognised that we must keep up with continuously developing technological advances. They suggested maintaining both forms of writing in the classroom, and for us to gain an awareness of what way of writing offers more advantages and under which circumstances.