Which modality results in superior recall for students: Handwriting, typing, or drawing?


  • Lindsay Richardson Carleton University
  • Guy Lacroix Carleton University




drawing, handwriting, typing, notetaking, education


One of the most common interests among cognitive psychologists is establishing ways to enhance human learning. An additional layer of complexity has been brought on by the rapid evolution of technology. Specifically, examining if the mechanisms involved in typing differ from those involved in handwriting. The literature concerning the implications of encoding modality on memory have been inconclusive. This present research examined whether encoding modality resulted in performance differences for word recall. Wammes et al.’s (2016) drawing versus handwriting methodology was utilized with the addition of a typing condition. The results replicated the drawing effect, whereby drawn words were better recalled than handwritten ones. Overall, the evidence did not suggest that the mechanisms involved in handwriting led to better free recall than those involved in typing. However, if the pen is indeed mightier than the keyboard (Mueller & Oppenheimer, 2014), then the effect is not explained by visual attention or sensorimotor action differences between modalities. Implications for education are discussed.


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How to Cite

Richardson, L., & Lacroix, G. (2023). Which modality results in superior recall for students: Handwriting, typing, or drawing?. Journal of Writing Research, 15(3), 519–540. https://doi.org/10.17239/jowr-2024.15.03.04