Students & Note Taking


Emmalyn Ylaya, Staff Writer

Technology is advancing, and students today have more options for taking notes than a pen and paper.

Most students prefer to use a paper notebook to take notes because electronics can be distracting to others in the room and can sometimes fail. Other students take faster, more complete notes when typing them on a laptop or a tablet.

Freshman Aaron Barsham prefers taking notes on a laptop over writing them in a notebook as he finds it easier. He notices that his fellow students may choose to take notes in a paper notebook, on an electronic device or both.

“Writing is not very easy for me because it cramps up my finger muscles extremely quick and it feels completely unnatural,” Barsham said. “Some people like writing their notes, some like typing and some like both writing and typing. This would depend on whichever way the student likes.”

Barsham thinks students will not get distracted by the technology if the class is interesting.

“It is not distracting if the subject is not boring,” Barsham said. “It is not necessarily the medium through which you take notes that matter because people will not get easily distracted if they are invested in something.”

Some students say they can easily keep all their notes together on any technology device so that they do not have to carry several notebooks with them.

Utica College professors, like the students, have preferences for how they want students to take notes in class. Most instructors say that using an electronic device is a distraction to other students. However, UC instructors recognize that some students may need technological tools for some situations.

Professor of communication and media Ariel Gratch is flexible with technology use in class. However, Gratch said that students can easily become distracted during class by looking at what is on other people’s screens.

“You retain more information when you take notes by hand,” Gratch said. “However, the student needs to have a conversation with me about using digital technology tools in class. These could be students who have learning disabilities or students that find themselves taking notes with an electronic device a lot easier.”

Gratch said that students may have different reasons for using electronic devices in class.

“I understand the concept of these students having their own ways of taking notes in class,” he said. “If students are using technology in my class without letting me know they need to use them, I will take points off their grade.”

Gratch does not want students to become distracted with the use of technology in his class. He said students are not going to learn the course material if they are paying attention to what is on another student’s screen.

“I have had a student one semester that needed to use a laptop for taking notes in class,” Gratch said. “I asked him to sit in the back of the room so that other students do not get distracted with what is on his screen.”

Professor of sociology Richard Duque said that he wants students to take notes the old-fashioned way by using a notebook and a writing utensil.

Duque said that he realized that there has been an increase in the amount of students using laptops and tablets in class. It was not only for taking notes but also for things that are not class-related like messaging friends, doing work for other classes and browsing the Internet.

“It is clear to me that many college students today are overwhelming themselves with technology,” Duque said. “I have concluded that the recent research on digital addiction is worth serious consideration. This heavy reliance on their social networking devices is negatively impacting their social and academic life, and thus, it is threatening their future success.”