The key point above is that meaning improves the reliability of your memory. As such, the simple act of highlighting does nothing more than make portions of your text book (or notes) yellow. The act of highlighting doesn’t change the memory process at all. Rather, it makes it easier for you notice that part of the text again in the future. If you don’t actually think about the passage you highlight though, then when you come across the yellow block in the future, you are unlikely to recall why you highlighted it.I could not agree more. But then the autor goes on to claim that
You are much better off writing notes in a notebook than you are highlighting. Notice that I state “writing” rather than “typing” too. I chose that word deliberately. The reason I suggest writing, is that writing with a pen or pencil requires deliberate thought, and though it is a motor skill regulated by Procedural memory, when you are paraphrasing and shaping the words, you are actively using your semantic memory too, thus writing serves as a dual-coding exercise. Typing, on the other hand (ha, ha, no pun intended), is a skill that for most college students anyways, is automatic. It’s something you can do without deliberate thought, thus it is regulated primarily by Procedural memory. You can type and think of other things. So if you are reading and typing your “notes” you are not processing the material as deeply as you would be if you were hand-writing them. In short, highlighting and typing are time-savers, but not memory-improvers. If your aim is recall, then stick with an old-fashioned pen or pencil.It would be interesting to know whether there are any empirical studies supporting the claim that handwriting is better than typing. If they are, they are not mentioned here. But I doubt a priori that there is a difference between the "motor skill" of writing with pen or pencil or the motor skill of typing. Both are automatic (in so far as they are motor-skills) and both of them require procedural thought or procedural memory in so far as they are not. It's true: "You can type and think of other things." But it's also true that you can write, or drive, or ... Substitute what you like ... And think of other things. Mind you, it may well be that there are individual differences. I just don think they are as fundamental as this blog article suggests they are. Just as David Foster Wallace may have thought he had better (or different) ideas while handwriting, but not really have had any ideas he would not have had by working with a computer, some people may think they remember better when they write their notes by hand. If your aim is recall, repetition is your friend. Go over the notes, review them, ask questions about them, use them in arguments, connect them up with other notes, index them, etc., etc. Active engagement at more than one occasion is key. Whether handwritten or typed, notes that have no function will soon be forgotten.