Study: Allowing smartphones in class lowers grades — even for students who don’t use them

The study also showed that students who didn’t use electronic devices but attended lectures where their use was allowed also performed worse on tests.

Study: Allowing smartphones in class lowers grades — even for students who don’t use them
Students in a University of Missouri lecture hall

Students who use smartphones during lectures are less able to retain course material over the long term, new research suggests.

The study, published in the journal Educational Psychology, also showed that students performed worse on exams even when they didn't use smartphones or laptops during class but attended lectures in which they were allowed.

“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," lead researcher Arnold Glass, a professor of psychology at Rutgers–New Brunswick's School of Arts and Sciences, told Rutgers Today.

For the study, researchers tracked the performance of two groups of Rutgers–New Brunswick cognitive psychology students, 118 in total, as they took the same course over one term. The course was identical for both groups of students, but only one group was allowed to use electronic devices during the lectures; the other wasn't.

The majority of students used electronic devices when allowed, while only six students never used them at all. It seemed to make a crucial difference on final grades.


Glass et al.

Interestingly, the results showed that using electronic devices had no effect on students' ability to answer questions about course material taught that same day. However, it did seem to make students perform worse–by about 5 percent–on unit and final exams, suggesting that students' ability to retain information over the long term suffers if they divide their attention when material is being taught.

The researchers wrote that dividing your attention can hurt your long-term retention abilities because you ultimately spend less mental resources on mnemonic activities, such as answering quiz questions in class that will later show up on a final exam.

“This finding demonstrates for the first time that the main effect of divided attention in the classroom is not an immediate effect of selection or switching on comprehension but a long-term effect of divided attention on retention," the researchers wrote.

Glass suggested that teachers warn students of the counterproductive effects electronics can bring to the classroom.

“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," he said.

‘Designer baby’ book trilogy explores the moral dilemmas humans may soon create

How would the ability to genetically customize children change society? Sci-fi author Eugene Clark explores the future on our horizon in Volume I of the "Genetic Pressure" series.

Surprising Science
  • A new sci-fi book series called "Genetic Pressure" explores the scientific and moral implications of a world with a burgeoning designer baby industry.
  • It's currently illegal to implant genetically edited human embryos in most nations, but designer babies may someday become widespread.
  • While gene-editing technology could help humans eliminate genetic diseases, some in the scientific community fear it may also usher in a new era of eugenics.
Keep reading Show less

Octopus-like creatures inhabit Jupiter’s moon, claims space scientist

A leading British space scientist thinks there is life under the ice sheets of Europa.

Jupiter's moon Europa has a huge ocean beneath its sheets of ice.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SETI Institute
Surprising Science
  • A British scientist named Professor Monica Grady recently came out in support of extraterrestrial life on Europa.
  • Europa, the sixth largest moon in the solar system, may have favorable conditions for life under its miles of ice.
  • The moon is one of Jupiter's 79.
Keep reading Show less

Lair of giant predator worms from 20 million years ago found

Scientists discover burrows of giant predator worms that lived on the seafloor 20 million years ago.

Bobbit worm (Eunice aphroditois)

Credit: Rickard Zerpe / Flickr
Surprising Science
  • Scientists in Taiwan find the lair of giant predator worms that inhabited the seafloor 20 million years ago.
  • The worm is possibly related to the modern bobbit worm (Eunice aphroditois).
  • The creatures can reach several meters in length and famously ambush their pray.
Keep reading Show less

FOSTA-SESTA: Have controversial sex trafficking acts done more harm than good?

The idea behind the law was simple: make it more difficult for online sex traffickers to find victims.

Has FOSTA-SESTA really lived up to it's promise of protecting sex trafficking victims - or has it made them easier to target?

Credit: troyanphoto on Adobe Stock
Politics & Current Affairs
  • SESTA (Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act) and FOSTA (Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act) started as two separate bills that were both created with a singular goal: curb online sex trafficking. They were signed into law by former President Trump in 2018.
  • The implementation of this law in America has left an international impact, as websites attempt to protect themselves from liability by closing down the sections of their sites that sex workers use to arrange safe meetings with clientele.
  • While supporters of this bill have framed FOSTA-SESTA as a vital tool that could prevent sex trafficking and allow sex trafficking survivors to sue those websites for facilitating their victimization, many other people are strictly against the bill and hope it will be reversed.
Keep reading Show less
Videos

What is the ‘self’? The 3 layers of your identity.

Answering the question of who you are is not an easy task. Let's unpack what culture, philosophy, and neuroscience have to say.

Scroll down to load more…
Quantcast