Students perform best without laptop in class, study reveals

Researchers have found out that laptops in classes affect the academic performance of students.

In this digital age, it is hard for students to go to their classes without a laptop or without using the internet. Computers connected to the internet facilitate the use of online course materials and provide easy and direct access to the online sources. But according to a new research, which was published recently by the US National Library of Medicine National Institute of Health, says that bringing a computer in the class could be of help on a surface level only.

New research conducted by scientists at Michigan State University (MSU) suggests that laptops are not conducive to the learning process that takes place inside a classroom. Computers connected to the internet are instrumental in creating an illusion of enhanced engagement with course content, but students were found out distracted by the temptation to use the laptop to non-course related browsing, including social media.

The study titled "Logged In and Zoned Out" was published on 20 December 2017 conducted by Susan Ravizza and colleagues. The researchers evaluated how classroom performance relates to usage of the World Wide Web for academic and non-academic purposes. The respondents, who are college students of MSU enrolled to introductory psychology course, were connected to a proxy server that monitored their actions on the web during class.

Ravizza and colleagues asked the students to log in to a network at the beginning of each class, informing them that the internet use would be monitored. Throughout the semester, the academic performance of 84 students was assessed, and their internet use, including the duration, sites they visited as well as the server requests sent, were all evaluated.

The research revealed that students spent less than five minutes doing class-related activities and much more on Facebook and other non-academic use. Researchers suggest that students disengage with a class discussion when they are not interested or bored and instead turn to social media and the internet to let time pass by. About one-third of the class time was spent on being zoned out, and grades suffered.