in terms of understanding the content of the lecture, the students who took their notes by hand came out much, much better. After a week, this difference in understanding was still clearly measurable. There is no secret to it and the explanation is pretty simple: Handwriting is slower and can't be corrected as quickly as electronic notes. Because students can't write fast enough to keep up with everything that is said in a lecture, they are forced to focus on the gist of what is being said, not the details. But to be able to note down the gist of a lecture, you have to understand it in the first place. So if you are writing by hand, you are forced to think about what you hear (or read) - otherwise you wouldn't be able to grasp the underlying principle, the idea, the structure of an argument.