Digital devices have become more prominent in educational settings over the last decade but a new study suggests that writing by hand helps children learn more and remember better or smarter.
The study, published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology, confirms that choosing handwriting over keyboard use yields the best learning and memory. The research team from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Norway have investigated this several times, first in 2017 and now in 2020. In 2017, she examined the brain activity of 20 students. She has now published a study in which she examined brain activity in twelve young adults and twelve children.
This is the first time that children have participated in such a study.
Both studies were conducted using an EEG to track and record brain wave activity. The participants wore a hood with over 250 electrodes attached.
The brain produces electrical impulses when it is active. The sensors in the electrodes are very sensitive and pick up the electrical activity that takes place in the brain. Handwriting gives the brain more hooks to hang memories on.
Each examination took 45 minutes per person, and the researchers received 500 data points per second.
The results showed that the brain in both young adults and children is much more active when writing by hand than when typing on a keyboard.
“The use of pen and paper gives the brain more ‘hooks’ to hang your memories on. Writing by hand creates much more activity in the sensorimotor parts of the brain,” said study author Audrey van der Meer from NTNU. “A lot of senses are activated by pressing the pen on paper, seeing the letters you write and hearing the sound you make while writing,” van der Meer added.
These sense experiences create contact between different parts of the brain and open the brain up for learning. We both learn better and remember better, according to the researchers.
She believed that her own and others’ studies emphasise the importance of children being challenged to draw and write at an early age, especially at school. Today’s digital reality is that typing, tapping and screen time are a big part of children’s and adolescents’ everyday lives. A survey of 19 countries in the EU shows that Norwegian children and teens spend the most time online. The smartphone is a constant companion, followed closely by the PC and tablet.
The research team thinks digital learning has many positive aspects, but urges handwriting training.–IANS