In-Class Laptop Use and Its Effects on Student Learning

Topics: Education, Laptop, Classroom Pages: 17 (6021 words) Published: May 13, 2012
Computers & Education 50 (2008) 906–914

In-class laptop use and its eVects on student learning
Carrie B. Fried
Winona State University, Psychology Department, 231 Phelps Hall, Winona, MN 55987, United States Received 29 June 2006; received in revised form 15 September 2006; accepted 24 September 2006

Abstract Recently, a debate has begun over whether in-class laptops aid or hinder learning. While some research demonstrates that laptops can be an important learning tool, anecdotal evidence suggests more and more faculty are banning laptops from their classrooms because of perceptions that they distract students and detract from learning. The current research examines the nature of in-class laptop use in a large lecture course and how that use is related to student learning. Students completed weekly surveys of attendance, laptop use, and aspects of the classroom environment. Results showed that students who used laptops in class spent considerable time multitasking and that the laptop use posed a signiWcant distraction to both users and fellow students. Most importantly, the level of laptop use was negatively related to several measures of student learning, including self-reported understanding of course material and overall course performance. The practical implications of these Wndings are discussed. © 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. Keywords: Laptop use; Classroom teaching; Post-secondary education; Teaching/Learning strategies

Computers, and especially laptops, have become standard equipment in higher education as the number of universities instituting laptop initiatives continues to grow (Weaver & Nilson, 2005). Brown, Burg, and Dominick (1998) and Brown and Petitto (2003) have coined the term ubiquitous computing to describe a campus where all students and faculty have laptops and all buildings have access to wi-W technology. But recently there has been a backlash against such programs, with faculty banning laptop use in their classrooms due to concerns about the negative impact they have on student learning (e.g., Melerdiercks, 2005; Young, 2006). There does seem to be a developing feud between those who want to promote laptop use and those who are resistant to it. For the past few years, many educational innovators have touted technological advances in general and laptops with wireless connectivity more speciWcally as the next great educational innovations. Brown and his colleagues (e.g., Brown et al., 1998; Brown & Petitto, 2003) have long advocated the beneWts of universal and constant access to computers on college campuses. Much attention has been paid to Wnding ways of roll out laptop programs and get faculty to adopt and adapt to such programs (e.g., *

Tel.: +1 507 457 5483; fax: +1 507 457 2327. E-mail address:

0360-1315/$ - see front matter © 2006 Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. doi:10.1016/j.compedu.2006.09.006

C.B. Fried / Computers & Education 50 (2008) 906–914


Candiotti & Clarke, 1998; Hall & Elliot, 2003; McVay, Snyder, & Graetz, 2005; Platt & Bairnsfather, 2000; Schrum, Skeele, & Grant, 2002). One common theme seems to be that if faculty would “take to” the new technology, everyone would reap the beneWts of this educational revolution (e.g., Weaver & Nilson, 2005). The key question for most educators is simply whether these technological innovations will have a positive impact on education. There is some evidence that laptop programs and the so-called ubiquitous computing environments they create on college campuses can have a positive eVect. Some (e.g., Fitch, 2004; Partee, 1996; Stephens, 2005) have found that laptops can facilitate faculty-student interactions and in-class participation, thus increasing engagement and active learning. This is often done through preparing and posting discussion questions and using new devices such as response keypads to facilitate student interaction. Driver...

References: Altmann, E. M., & Trafton, J. G. (2002). Memory for goals: an activation-based model. Cognitive Science, 26, 39–83. Bailey, B. A., & Konstan, J. A. (2006). On the need for attention-aware systems: measuring eVects of interruption on task performance, error rate, and aVective state. Computers in Human Behavior, 22, 685–708. Barak, M., Lipson, A., & Lerman, S. (2006). Wireless laptops as means for promoting active learning in large lecture halls. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 38, 245–263. Bhave, M. P. (2002). Classrooms with Wi-Fi. T.H.E. Journal, 30(14), 17–20. Borja, R. R. (2006). Researchers weigh beneWts of one computer per lap. Education Week, 25(36), 10–11. Brown, D. G., Burg, J. J., & Dominick, J. L. (1998). A strategic plan for ubiguitous laptop computing. Communications of the ACM, 41, 26– 35. Brown, D. G., & Petitto, K. R. (2003). The status of ubiquitous computing. Educase Review, 38, 25–33. Candiotti, A., & Clarke, N. (1998). Combining universal access with faculty development and academic facilities. Communications of the ACM, 41, 36–41. Chen, E. (2006). Laptops nixed in some U. Penn law classes. The Daily Pennsylvanian, p. A1. Retrieved August 31, 2006, University Wire service via Chun, M. M., & Wolfe, J. (2001). Visual attention. In E. B. Goldstein (Ed.), Blackwell’s handbook of perception (pp. 272–310). Oxford UK: Blackwell Publishing. Coon, D. (2004). Introduction to psychology: gateways to mind and behavior (10th ed.). Belmont CA: Thomson Wadsworth. Demb, A., Erickson, D., & Hawkins-Wilding, S. (2004). The laptop alternative: student’s reactions and strategic implications. Computers and Education, 43, 383–401. Driver, M. (2002). Exploring student perceptions of group interactions and class satisfaction in the web-enhanced classroom. The Internet and Higher Education, 5, 35–45. Finn, S., & Inman, J. G. (2004). Digital unity and digital divide: surveying alumni to study eVects of a campus laptop initiative. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 36, 297–317. Fitch, J. L. (2004). Student feedback in the college classroom: a technology solution. Educational Technology Research and Development, 52, 171–181. Gay, G., Stefanone, M., Grace-Martin, M., & Hembrooke, H. (2001). The eVects of wireless computing in collaborative learning environments. International Journal of Human-Computer Interactions, 13, 257–275. Gopher, D. (1993). The skills of attentional control: acquisition and execution of attention strategies. In D. E. Meyer & S. Kornblum (Eds.), Attention and performance (14, pp. 299–322). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Granberg, E., & Witte, J. (2005). Teaching with laptops for the Wrst time: lessons from a social science classroom. New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 101, 51–59. Hall, M., & Elliot, K. M. (2003). DiVusion of technology into the teaching process: strategies to encourage faculty members to embrace the laptop environment. Journal of Education for Business, 79, 301–307. Hyden, P. (2005). Teaching statistics by taking advantage of the laptop’s ubiquity. New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 101, 37–42. Jones, A. (2005). Computers in college classrooms: a new way not to pay attention. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 2(October 18), 1B. Kahneman, D. A. (1973). Attention and eVort. Englewood CliVs, NJ: Prentice Hall. Kladko, B. (2005). Wireless classrooms: tool or distraction? The Record(April 16), A1. Levine, L. E. (2002a). Using technology to enhance the classroom environment. T.H.E. Journal, 26(6), 16–18. Levine, L. E. (2002b). Laptop classrooms present new teaching challenge. T.H.E. Journal, 30(5), 10. Mackinnon, G. R., & Vibert, C. (2002). Judging the constructive impacts of communication technologies: a business education study. Education and Information Technology, 7, 127–135. Mangan, K. (2001). Business schools, fed up with internet use during classes, force students to log oV. Chronicle of Higher Education(Sept. 7), A43. McGinnis, N. (2006). Instructors at U. Kansas forbid laptop use in classrooms. University Daily Kansan. Retrieved September 2, 2006, University Wire service via McVay, G. J., Snyder, K. D., & Graetz, K. A. (2005). Evolution of a laptop university: a case study. British Journal of Educational Technology, 36, 513–524. McWilliams, G. (2005). The laptop backlash. The Wallstreet Journal(October 14), B1. Melerdiercks, K. (2005). The dark side of the laptop university. Journal of Ethics, 14, 9–11. Mitra, A., & SteVensmeier, T. (2000). Changes in student attitudes and student computer use in a computer-enriched environment. Journal of Research on Computing in Education, 32, 417–433. Olson, F. (2002). Duke U decides against requiring freshmen to own laptops. Chronicle of Higher Education(Jan. 11), A44. Palmer, H. (2006). At BYU, laptops in class seen as being a mixed bag. The Daily Universe. Retrieved August 31, 2006, University Wire service via Pargas, R. P., & Weaver, K. A. (2005). Laptops in computer science: creating the “learning studio”. New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 101, 43–51. Partee, M. H. (1996). Using e-mail, web sites, and newsgroups to enhance traditional instruction. T.H.E. Journal, 23(11), 79–82. Platt, M. W., & Bairnsfather, L. (2000). Compulsory computer purchase in a traditional medical school curriculum. Teaching and Learning in Medicine, 11, 202–206. Posner, M. (1982). Cumulative development of attention theory. American Psychologists, 37, 168–179.
C.B. Fried / Computers & Education 50 (2008) 906–914
Ridberg, M. (2006). Professors want their classes ‘unwired’. Christian Science Monitor(May 4), 16. Robinson-Riegler, G., & Robinson-Riegler, B. (2004). Cognitive psychology: applying the science of the mind. Boston MA: Pearson. Roda, C., & Thomas, J. (2006). Attention aware systems: theories, applications, and research agenda. Computers in Human Behavior, 22, 557–587. Schrum, L., Skeele, R., & Grant, M. (2002). One college of education’s eVort to infuse technology: a systematic approach to revisioning teaching and learning. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 35, 256–271. Schwartz, J. (2003). Professors vie with Web for class’s attention. New York Times(January 2), A1. Siegle, D., & Foster, T. (2001). Laptop computers and multimedia and presentation software: their eVects on student achievement in anatomy and physiology. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 34, 29–37. Silva, C. (2006). Some colleges crack down on laptop use in classroom: teachers say it detracts from class participation. The Boston Globe(June 10), B1. Sostek, A. (2005). Laptops give students a license to roam. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette(November 6), A1. Stephens, B. R. (2005). Laptops in psychology: conducting Xexible in-class research and writing laboratories. New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 101, 15–26. Stickney, V. (2005). School laptops need policing. Omaha World-Herald(December 27), B1. Szaniszlo, M. (2006). Harvard profs lay down law: no laptops in class. The Boston Herald(June 4), A6. Trafton, J. G., Altmann, E. M., Brock, D. P., & Mintz, F. E. (2003). Preparing to resume an interrupted task: eVects of prospective goal encoding and retrospective rehearsal. International Journal of Human–Computer Studies, 58, 583–603. Trimmel, M., & Bachmann, J. (2004). Cognitive, social, motivational and health aspects of students in laptop classrooms. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 20, 151–158. Weaver, B. E., & Nilson, L. B. (2005). Laptops in class: What are they good for? What can you do with them? New Directions in Teaching and Learning, 101, 3–13. Wickens, C. D., & Hollands, J. G. (2002). Engineering psychology and human performance. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall. Young, J. R. (2006). The Wght for classroom attention: professor vs laptop. Chronicle of Higher Education(June 2), A27–A29. Zucker, A. (2004). Developing a research agenda for ubiquitous computing in schools. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 30, 371–386.
Continue Reading

Please join StudyMode to read the full document

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

  • Laptops in Class Essay
  • Effects of Teen Marijuana Use Essay
  • Use of Laptop Essay
  • Students' Perception on the Use of Ict in Learning Essay
  • The effect of class size on learning quality Essay
  • Students' Perception on Separating Class Based on Learning Style Essay
  • Should Student Use Their Cell Phones in Class? Essay
  • The Impact of Laptop Use on Student Achievement Essay

Become a StudyMode Member

Sign Up - It's Free