With the usage of smartphones becoming increasingly pervasive, taking photos to record information in class allows students to store more information with less effort. Many studies have demonstrated that longhand note-taking facilitates the deeper encoding of information and reduces mind-wandering, but little research has investigated the learning outcomes of the photo-taking strategy, so a recent study was conducted to compare their effectiveness.
The sample of this study included 100 college students between the ages of 18-32 who were divided into three subgroups to listen to two lectures in three different conditions: listening with longhand note-taking, with photo-taking, and without note-taking. After they completed both lectures, participants reviewed their hand-written notes, photos they took, and plain printouts, respectively, to prepare for a recall test.
The results revealed that students who took longhand notes outperformed the other two groups. A repetitive experiment was also done to probe participants’ mind-wandering behavior by asking participants to report their mind-wandering behavior. The outcomes demonstrated that longhand note-takers mind-wandered less than the other groups. The authors concluded that significant benefits of longhand note-taking should be acknowledged, and educators have an obligation to impart knowledge on how best to learn — taking longhand notes.
Source: Wong, S. S. H., & Lim, S. W. H. (2023). Take notes, not photos: Mind-wandering mediates the impact of note-taking strategies on video-recorded lecture learning performance. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 29, 124–135. https://doi.org/10.1037/xap0000375