Use of phones in lectures linked to lower exam grades
Students not using devices equally distracted by use by others nearby, study finds
Students who used smartphones or laptops in class for non-academic purposes had exam scores at least 5 per cent lower than the control group, a study has found. Photographer: Yuya Shino/Bloomberg
A study from Rutgers University in the United States shows that use of smartphones, tablets or laptops in class for non-academic purposes is linked to lower end-of-term grades. It was also found that students not using devices were equally distracted by others around them doing so.
Researchers carried out an experiment with 118 cognitive psychology students, randomly assigning them to a class that allowed electronic devices and a class with a ban. While device use didn’t impact upon in-class quizzes, the dividing of attention between checking their phone/laptop and listening to the lecturer seemed to have an effect on long-term retention.
Students who used smartphones or laptops in class for non-academic purposes had exam scores at least 5 per cent lower than the control group who were not allowed any devices.
Lead author Prof Arnold Glass said the study “should alert the many dedicated students and instructors that dividing attention is having an insidious effect that is impairing their exam performance and final grade,” adding that “teachers should explain to students the damaging effect of distractions on retention – not only for themselves but for the whole class.”