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Cognitive Benefits of Handwriting for Students

For those of us old enough to remember taking notes by hand in college, or for those of us who still write letters or journal entries by hand, do you think these activities would affect our brains differently if we were, instead, typing on a keyboard? Researchers are exploring the differences, and probable benefits of, writing by hand. This has obvious and direct implications for teaching.
A Collection By Amelia Franz
  • 8 Collection Items
  • 8 Collection Items
  • Discussion
Cognitive Benefits of Handwriting for Students
  • Amelia Franz says:
    This short, entertaining graphic video demonstrates the basics of Cornell note-taking for students. It would be a good introduction if you are teaching your students how to take notes and want to introduce the system in the simplest way possible.
  • Amelia Franz says:
    Have you taught your middle schoolers or high schoolers any specific methods of note-taking? Although this resource is geared toward college students, secondary students can certainly benefit from being taught specifically how to take notes with one of or more of these methods. The methods summarized are Cornell, Outlining, Mapping, Charting, and Sentence.
  • storiesfromschoolaz.org

    The Conundrum of Cursive

    5 minute read
    Amelia Franz says:
    A fifth-grade teacher explains why she prioritizes handwriting over keyboarding alone in her classroom, and how she believes it benefits her students. I included this in the collection because it is a first-hand view, rather than one based solely on research. Don't miss the very detailed argument in the comments section, which refutes the idea that cursive confers special educational advantages on students (over print), and argues that much of cursive research has been misunderstood.
  • ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

    The Effects of Handwriting Experience on Functional Brain Development in Pre-Literate Children

    18 minute read
    Amelia Franz says:
    Handwriting might help students learn to read, according to this (free access) scientific study. Specific brain areas involving reading were stimulated after young children wrote letters by hand, but not after they traced or typed the letters. The full article is available for free.
  • hw21summit.com

    A Summary of Research Presented at Handwriting in the 21st Century?, An Educational Summit

    10 minute read
    Amelia Franz says:
    This five-page summary contains easy-to-read text and a few illustrations from the 2012 conference on handwriting. The presentations included handwriting and neuroscience, implications for text recognition, and handwriting in the Common Core standards.
  • scientificamerican.com

    A Learning Secret: Don't Take Notes with a Laptop

    6 minute read
    Amelia Franz says:
    Most of us won't be surprised to learn that college students taking notes on their laptops spend much of the time distracted by Twitter feeds. The important finding discussed here is that UCLA students apparently learn better when they take notes by hand, rather than on a device. The working theory is that the slower handwriting requires students to mentally paraphrase and evaluate the lecture content, while the much faster keyboarding encourages less mentally-challenging transcribing.
  • Amelia Franz says:
    This 2007 exhibit included illustrated letters from famous artists. I think the idea behind the exhibit is to show that handwriting communicates more than simply a message or content. In addition, it can express the artistic technique, personality, and mood of the author.
  • intechopen.com

    Digitizing Literacy: Reflections on the Haptics of Writing

    15 minute read
    Amelia Franz says:
    A Norwegian researcher explains, in this (free access) scientific paper, that the complexity of writing by hand integrates movement and visual processes in ways that are very different from typing on a keyboard. These very complex interactions mean that handwriting might affect literacy in ways that need to be studied.