Are laptops in class detrimental to learning ?

If you walk into a lecture on the majority of college campuses, you will see a large number of students gradually moving from the standard note taking to typing on a laptop. Andrew does not let us use computers in class, so I wanted to research if in fact laptops were actually detrimental to our learning. feb5dd03509cf12b5ebecc21be6522a8

A study done by the Center for Research for Learning and Teaching ( CRLT) at the University of Michigan reported both positive and negative effects of the use of laptops. This study included 18 courses ranging from both grad and undergrad students. Half of the courses were set to use a program known as Lecture Tools, which was designed specifically for in class laptop use. The program allows the ability to take notes right on powerpoint, use clickers to interact and ask questions, record lectures and even rate their understandings at the end of the lectures. The other eight courses were rv-al538_etique_p_20130907000311also given the opportunity to use a laptop in class, but rather than using Lecture Tools, were given free range do whatever they chose online. Out of a total of 595 students participating in the survey, 259 students responded with results from the Lecture Tool classes and 336 responses came from the control group. The participants were given three statements that they had to rank their agreeability on. The three statements included ” “My attentiveness has increased due to laptop use,” “My laptop helped me to be engaged during lecture,” and “I learned more due to the use of a laptop than I would have without it.” (Erring Zhu, Matthew Kaplan, R. Charles Dershimer, Inger Bergom). The conclusion of most of the responses reported that the students using LectureTools had paid more attention and were more engaged in learning than students with free range of their computers. The most significant difference was in the engagement response, with 60 percent of LectureTool students reporting engagement vs only 39 percent of the control group. Though the students using LectureTool reported concentrating better, both groups reported they spent at least 10 minutes of class time on some sort of social media.


(I know this picture is really blurry but if you click on the link to the study the graphs and results are all there)

Another study by  Carrie Fried at Winona State University, focused on how the use of computers effects grades. 137 students from two different sections of the same Psychology Class participated in this survey, with no rules or structure to their in class laptop use. Around 48.7 percent of the students reported using laptops and the average laptop use was 17 minutes out of the 75 minute lecture.despiste-clase However, much of that 17 minutes was used on other internet sources rather that concentrated class material or not taking. Use of laptops causes test scores to decrease, however there was no direct relationships. There were other alternate variables such as class attendance and class preparation. Also self responses are not the best measure for actuate

So if all these studies report so negatively on the effects of laptop use in class, then why do some teachers still allow it? While googling this, my research took me again back to LectureTools. According to a study done on 200 University of Michigan students, the right programs on laptops can help enhance the learning experience. Students reported that while sometimes straying from class topics, the use of the LectureTool helped the students connect more with their teacher throughout the lesson.

So as much as I enjoy having my laptop in class, I will be the first to admit that I most definitely spent class time on unrelated sites, so it makes perfect sense why Andrew does not allow them in class. However, maybe Penn State will soon incorporate and computer learning program like LectureTool to increase the engagement of students.




3 thoughts on “Are laptops in class detrimental to learning ?

  1. Xueyao Cao

    It’s nice to see that you choose the topic related to our life. I really enjoyed reading it. Several professors had told us the same statement in class, that using laptops to take notes would cause a lower grade, but I never tired to gave a second thought on the statement. The ideas in this blog post are coherent, it’s great that you used several studies to support the hypothesis, As you have concluded in the study, the major problem that caused by the laptop is that student spend most of their times on social media instead of using it for real goods. The studies you have used in the blogs are experimental trials that are well controlled. Both datas produced from the control group and the experimental group are clearly organize and contrast.

  2. Corbin Kennedy Miller

    As someone who, other than when I’m in class, am usually doing something on my laptop, I can say that it can definitely be distracting. This is because whenever you are on your laptop, there are so many different things on your screen that can distract you from what the professor is saying. Also, through multiple studies, it has been proven that the best way to take notes is not by typing it on a laptop but by writing it in a notebook to properly engage with the notes.

  3. Randall Stansbury

    I agree that while I like having my laptop in class it can definitely be more harmful than helpful when it comes to paying attention. I find it particularly difficult now that there is a way to receive your iMessages on your computer if you have a Macbook. I think that this addition makes it so easy to get distracted in class, and have a conversation with your friends while it appears that you are typing notes.

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