Why does writing my own notes help me learn?
There's a reason why writing your own notes is good for exam revision.
In his book, Why Don’t Students Like School? (£17.99, Jossey-Bass) psychologist Prof Daniel Willingham says that “memory is the residue of thought”. We remember the things we think about, not necessarily the things we are told.
When you write notes in your own words, you force yourself to reframe someone else’s ideas into a form that you can concisely express on paper. This mental effort increases the chance of this information being transferred to your long-term memory later.
Many studies have found that handwritten notes, particularly those with arrows, diagrams and margin doodles, improve information retention. Typing is quicker, but it is too repetitive and mechanical to stimulate your focus and attention.
- Is there any link between handwriting and personality?
- Are there more left-handed people in societies where the written word flows right to left?
- Are talents genetic or learnt?
- Can we unlearn things?
Asked by: Sara Bjelanovic, age 14, London
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Luis trained as a zoologist, but now works as a science and technology educator. In his spare time he builds 3D-printed robots, in the hope that he will be spared when the revolution inevitably comes.
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