It has become a common student habit to bring a laptop into the classroom and “type notes”, whilst listening to the lecture. However, more and more professors are suggesting that sitting behind a screen hinders the learning process, and so would like to ban them from in-class use, as reported in the Dagblad van het Noorden.
‘It is more difficult to make contact with students, especially if you want to have a discussion or explain new material. And research shows that the material sticks better if notes are taken by pen-and-paper,’ says Marcel Brus, professor of International Public Law at the University of Groningen. Accordingly, Brus started this academic year with a special measure: his students are not allowed to open their computers during his lectures anymore.
Law students are finding the measure inconvenient, as writing notes down alongside listening to the teacher is troublesome: ‘I can now write less information than if I use a laptop. In addition, writing by hand makes it difficult to attend lectures, which is demotivating. And I have a bad handwriting’, commented RUG student Roza Klaasen.
According to researchers, it is not the laptop itself, but rather the study-unrelated internet use that distracts students, and hinders their academic performance. ‘As a result, our attention shifts continuously and our concentration is becoming fragmented,’ explains Marlies ter Beek, PhD student in ICT and Education. She confirmed that scientists concluded that handwriting notes promotes better summarising and retention of new information.
Neither Ter Beek, nor RUG’s spokesperson Jorien Bakker want to remove computers from the university classrooms. ‘Teachers can decide for themselves what happens in the lecture hall. Students with dyslexia or other limitations can always use a laptop,’ reassured Bakker. ‘It is all about how you use it. In addition, teachers should also learn to work with technology during the lectures,’ added the ICT and Education student.