Research says the pen is mightier than the keyboard – and other useful education research nuggets

Like to talk about pedagogy and ‘research driven education’, but don’t want to read all those long academic research papers?

Well, here’s some really important academic research, but in TL;DR format:

First, the reason that my colleagues and I often talk about pen input on Windows tablets:


Students who used laptops to take notes learned less than students who used paper due to a more mindless and word-for-word style of note-taking.

Note that this isn’t about laptops versus paper – it’s about the fact that students taking notes with a keyboard learn less than those who use a pen (like I do with OneNote and the stylus on my Surface Pro 3)


Source: Psychological Science Journal

Secondly, evidence that simply encouraging 1:1 or BYOD computers can actually lower student achievement:

  Students who multitasked on a laptop during a lecture scored lower on a test compared to those who did not multitask, and students who were in direct view of a multitasking peer scored lower on a test compared to those who were not.  

Source: Computers and Education magazine

And finally, support for the view that stand-and-deliver lectures should end:

  Undergraduate students in classes with traditional lectures are 1.5 times more likely to fail than students in classes that use more stimulating, active learning methods.  

Source: Science Magazine


By Theonlysilentbob (Own work), via Wikimedia CommonsWhat does that make you think about what you normally see when you’re at the front of a lecture hall or classroom that’s full of students?

Learn More

For more of this kind of research, take a look at:

the education category on the Useful Science website