When I was a student, I always found that I learned best by taking copious notes by hand. I even chose my bar review course because it didn't have a lot of printed materials, but required students to attend lectures and take notes. Something about taking down the information by hand seemed to help me retain it. It wasn't just taking notes in class that helped me; I also went through my notes after the class and amplified and organized them. It was the only way I could truly master the material.
A recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education presents a study done by two researchers on students' note-taking preferences and supports those who believe that laptops are more hindrance to learning than help. The researchers found that laptop users took more than twice as many notes as students who wrote longhand, but that "While more notes are beneficial, at least to a point, if the notes are taken indiscriminately or by mindless transcribing content ... the benefit disappears." These findings will be published soon in an article entitled "The Pen Is Mightier Than the Keyboard: Advantages of Longhand Over Laptop Note-taking," in the journal Psychological Science. This article is sure to fuel the ongoing debate over laptops in the classroom.