Checking phones in lectures can cost students half a grade in exams

A new study found that students perform less well in the end-of-term exams if they are allowed access to an electronic device for non-academic purposes in lectures. Students who don’t use such devices themselves but attend lectures where their use is permitted also do worse, which suggests that the use of such devices damages a group learning environment.


The study found that while using the devices did not lower students’ scores in comprehension tests within the lectures themselves, it did lower scores in the end-of-term exam by half a grade. This shows that the main effect of divided attention in the classroom is on long-term retention.


The study’s lead researcher, Professor Arnold Glass said that the findings should alert many students and educators on the insidious effect dividing attention can have on exam performance. In fact, he encouraged educators to explain these damaging effect to students.


Distractions are always there for students. In the earlier years, these distractions came in the form of portable electronic toys like Gameboys and Tamagochi. As technology progresses, we have to deal with new distractions such as smart phones. It actually takes an experienced teacher to handle this effectively by appealing to students’ maturity.


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