Paul L. Caron

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Sovern: Student Laptop Use During Class

Jeff Sovern (St. John's) has posted Law Student Laptop Use During Class for Non-Class Purposes: Temptation v. Incentives on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

This article reports on how law students use laptops, based on observations of 1072 laptop users (though there was considerable overlap among those users from one class to another) during 60 sessions of six law school courses. Some findings

  • More than half the upper-year students seen using laptops employed them for non-class purposes more than half the time, raising serious questions about how much they learned from class. By contrast, first-semester Civil Procedure students used laptops for non-class purposes far less: only 4% used laptops for non-class purposes more than half the time while 44% were never distracted by laptops.
  • Students in exam courses were more likely to tune out when classmates asked and professors responded to questions and less likely to tune out when a rule was discussed or textual material read in class
  • For first-semester students, policy discussions generated the highest level of distraction while displaying a PowerPoint slide which was not later posted on the web elicited the lowest level
  • With some exceptions, what was happening in the class did not affect whether upper-year students tuned out or paid attention.
  • The format used to convey information -- lecture, calling on students, or class discussion -- seemed to make little difference to the level of attention.
  • Student attentiveness to the facts of cases is comparable to their overall attention levels.

The article speculates that student decisions on whether to pay attention are responses to the tension between incentives and temptation. While the temptation to tune out probably remains constant, ebbs and flows in incentives may cause students to resist or yield to that temptation. Because first-semester grades have more of an impact on job prospects, first-semester students have a greater incentive than upper-year students to attend to classes. Similarly, because students probably anticipate that rules are more likely to be tested on exams, students perceive that they have more of an incentive to pay attention when rules are discussed. Conversely, students may suspect that matters asked about by classmates are less likely to be tested on and so their grades are unlikely to be affected if they miss the question and answer, reducing the incentive to pay attention.

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Yes, definitely Students can use a Laptop for Practical learning. It is grow up the students intelligent ratio. They are using e-learning and entertainment.

Posted by: hp coupons code | Apr 28, 2011 10:57:16 AM

Funny, I'm reading this article during a law class.

Posted by: Student | Apr 27, 2011 10:01:35 AM

Were the 1072 laptop user aware they were being observed? I think the answer to this question is necessary to judge the results of the observations (and also whether the students might complain, or more, about being observed).

Posted by: tax guy | Apr 22, 2011 12:49:44 PM

They needed a study for this? What they didn't measure is how many times the guys tuned out the professor while they were thinking about a cute girl in the class.

Posted by: Woody | Apr 22, 2011 7:36:10 AM