Study: In-Class Use of Cell Phones, Laptops Lowers Test Scores


Editor’s note: This post was originally published on Admitted in August 2018. It’s being republished as part of NACAC’s Best of the Blog series.

In the age of laptops, tablets, and smartphones, we’ve mastered the art of multitasking — right?

Unfortunately, a new study suggests otherwise and includes some sobering findings for students.

According to research published in Educational Psychology, students who use electronic devices during class lectures have a harder time recalling what they learned in the long-term.

“This is one of the occasional cases in human cognition where our intuitions mislead us, because even though (students) can divide their attention well enough to remember in the moment…what happens is that a week later, they’ve pretty much forgotten what happened in class,” researcher Arnold Glass told Inside Higher Ed.

Students in two sections of an identical upper-level college psychology class were told they could keep their devices during half of the class periods. For the other half, no devices could be used.

Researchers measured how students performed on daily quizzes, unit exams, and a final cumulative exam.

“Exam scores were poorer for all students on the material covered on device-approved days, regardless of their individual decisions to use their device or not,” Inside Higher Ed reported.

View the study and read the full article from Inside Higher Ed.

Admitted writer/editor Mary Stegmeir welcomes additional comments and story ideas at

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *