APUSH should allow typed notes

February 6, 2013 — by Minu Palaniappan and Rohan Rajeev

AP U.S. History (APUSH) is a fast-paced, intense course known for its consistent homework notes.

AP U.S. History (APUSH) is a fast-paced, intense course known for its consistent homework notes. Around 40 pages are assigned per week, and students must manage their time well enough to be able to turn them in the following Monday. Infamous for its depth and rigor, the class provides a challenge to most students.

In years past, APUSH students have been allowed to either type or handwrite their notes. Students welcomed this freedom, since typing roughly eight pages of notes per week is generally much faster than writing them out.

However, many websites offer troves of abridged chapter notes, which students can copy and paste rather than read the book. Additionally, some students have simply submitted copies of their peers’ typed notes for credit. To maintain the integrity of the assigned homework notes, some of the APUSH teachers have decided to only allow their students to handwrite textbook notes. 

While it's understandable that teachers want to eliminate this dishonesty, it's still a bad idea to stop taking notes by computer. For one thing, when students lose hand-written notes, there probably isn't any backup.

In addition, notes stored on a computer are much easier to locate when studying for tests. Tests are given approximately once a month in APUSH, so students need to stay totally organized to be able to study. Since rereading the textbook takes a very long time, students turn to their notes more often than not.

Unfortunately, academic integrity will always be an problem, albeit big or small. Online sources are not impossible to access, even when handwriting notes.

Last year, APUSH notes taken on a personal computer would have to be submitted to a secure website (turnitin.com) in order to check for plagiarism. However, this policy was loosely enforced. Had there been stricter enforcement of submissions with high plagiarism ratings, academic integrity would would be preserved, and students would benefit from the many advantages of typed notes.

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