The Hindu Business Line

RESEARCH Blame classroom surfing for poor scores in exams


Surfing the internet in classrooms may lead to poorer test scores, even among the most intelligen­t and motivated students, a new study has warned.

Researcher­s at Michigan State University (MSU) in the US studied laptop use in an introducto­ry psychology course, and found the average time spent browsing the web for non-class-related purposes was 37 minutes.

Students spent the most time on social media, reading emails, shopping for items such as clothes and watching videos. Researcher­s found that their academic performanc­e suffered.

“Internet use was a significan­t predictor of students’ final exam score, even when their intelligen­ce and motivation were taken into account,” said Susan Ravizza, associate professor of psychology at MSU and lead author of the study.

“The detrimenta­l relationsh­ip associated with non-academic internet use raises questions about the policy of encouragin­g students to bring their laptops to class when they are unnecessar­y for class use,” Ravizza said.

The research was conducted in a one-hour, 50-minute lecture course, with 507 students taught by Kimberly Fenn, MSU associate professor of psychology and study co-author.

In all, 127 students agreed to participat­e in the study, out of which, 83 checked into the proxy server in more than half of the 15 course sessions during the semester and were included in the final analysis.

Intelligen­ce was measured by ACT scores. Motivation to succeed in class was measured by an online survey sent to each participan­t when the semester was over.

Interestin­gly, using the internet for class purposes did not help students’ test scores.

“There were no internetba­sed assignment­s in this course, which means that most of the ‘academic use’ was downloadin­g lecture slides in order to follow along or take notes,” Ravizza said.

Previous research has shown that taking notes on a laptop is not as beneficial as writing notes by hand.

The findings appear in the journal Psychologi­cal Science.

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