Cellphones and laptops are a major distraction for students in a classroom setting, to the point where the devices are impacting their grades.
That’s according a new study out of Rutgers University, which revealed students who use their cellphones and laptops for non-class purposes during class time received significantly lower grades than their classmates who did not use devices.
While several studies have shown that cellphones negatively impact a student’s learning capacity, lead study author Dr. Arnold Glass and his colleague set out to determine exactly what that impact looked like.
“I was always interested in using technology in the classroom before it existed, but when it became apparent that it was affecting the classroom, it raised the question [of] what effect this was having,” he told ABC News.
So he split a pool of 118 college students enrolled in the same course into two groups – one that could access cellphones and laptops for non-educational purposes during class, and one that was required to stay device-free.
The two groups of students were taught the same course material by the same professor at the same time of day, according to Glass.
Ultimately, while the students in the electronics group scored about the same as the other group on comprehension tests during class lectures, they scored half a letter grade lower on final exams at the end of the term.
Here’s the real kicker – students who didn’t use technology in class but were sitting by students who did also saw a drop in their grade.
“Many dedicated students think they can divide their attention in the classroom without harming their academic success – but we found an insidious effect on exam performance and final grades,” Glass said in a Rutgers press release. “To help manage the use of devices in the classroom, teachers should explain to students the damaging effect of distractions on retention – not only on themselves, but for the whole class.”
Glass told ABC that the results from this study were most certainly applicable in a middle school, high school and workplace setting.
Device distraction is a powerful force. A separate study out of the University of Texas revealed that your cognitive capacity is significantly reduced when your smartphone is in reach – even if it’s turned off. A study out of Carnegie Mellon University found that drivers who are listening to someone talk on their phones have 37% reduction in brain activity, and a University of Washington study found that texting pedestrians were four times more likely to ignore lights or forget to look for traffic before crossing.
We want to hear from you. What do you think about the results of this study? How do you minimize the device distraction in your home? Sound off in the comment section.