Want to improve your test scores? Close your laptops and pay attention to the lecture

Posted on February 6, 2012

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By Josh Fischman, Chronicle of Higher Education

Professors increasingly frustrated by students who use laptops for non-class activities—like updating their Facebook pages—may be heartened by news from the University of Colorado at Boulder. A professor there has found that educating students about the negative effect that frivolous laptop use has on their performance reduces class time spent going walkabout on the Web.

Diane Sieber, an associate professor, teaches writing and ethics to engineering undergraduates. She told the Boulder Daily Camera newspaper that last semester, she identified 17 students in one of her classes who were using laptops most frequently. After the first test, she told them that they did 11 percent worse, on average, than their peers who did not have their faces in their computers as much.

Lo and behold, the number of laptop-nosed students dropped to a half dozen, and the test scores of those who stopped using their computers during class went up.

[…] Laptop-free zones have been ordered by law-school instructors at Florida International, Georgetown, and Harvard Universities, and the Universities of Michigan and Wisconsin.

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