Computer says: doh!
“Using laptops in class harms academic performance, study warns” (News, 6 April) is a very broad headline statement – surely it depends what students are asked to do with their laptops? If you are expecting them to sit quietly and record your thoughts over a two-hour lecture (“note taking” being almost the only activity described in the study) then of course they will get distracted – wouldn’t we all? Perhaps the question should be: if they are enabled to use the laptop to contribute to the session, or to actively work on something of value to their learning, is the same still true?
I would second the valid comment made above about the assumptions made here about the role of the teacher and the role of the learner in the classroom. This sounds like a model where the students are predominantly passive vessels required to take down information from the “expert”, which is pedagogically highly questionable. Also from a research methods point of view – how on earth can they make this claim? It’s not a particularly large margin and there are all kinds of other variables that could impact on performance between classes. I would question the validity of this study on a number of fronts.