Technology in the classroom has been an interesting debate as of late. Technology can be properly incorporated into courses for the benefit of students (i.e., via a polling software), but some instructors oppose its presence altogether. Previous research has shown that frequent laptop and cell phone use is negatively correlated with overall GPA, course grades, and exam grades (Fried, 2008; Junco & Cotton, 2012; Sana, Weston, & Cepeda, 2013). Hutcheon, Lian, & Richard (2019) wanted to investigate how banning personally technology in an intro psych course would impact student perceptions and performance.
Across 4 sections of intro psyc (N = 69), half had personal technology banned, and half were permitted the use of personal technology. They had students complete a set of surveys that measured course engagement, interest in psychology, general technology use, course performance, and professor-student rapport. They found that students were significantly less engaged when a technology ban was implemented compared to when technology use was permitted. However, there were no reported differences between the conditions for professor-student rapport or interested in psychology. Also, there were no differences in course performance between the conditions.
The authors interpreted the lower engagement in the technology ban condition as a way for students to express their preference for autonomy. They are rebelling against rules that seem arbitrary or could limit their freedom. The authors think this result may be due to the tone of the ban – not the ban itself. If they had provided students with rationale and evidence in favor of the ban, this may have lessened the adverse impact on engagement. At the very end the authors advise that instructors should take full consideration of the course, students, and structure of the ban before implementing anything.
This study is a really nice example of how teaching is personally empirical (learn more about this here). Hutcheon and colleagues’ findings didn’t coincide with previous research, and that’s perfectly fine. Instructors need to figure out what works best in their classroom context – not what works for everyone else. This study is also a great example of how more empirical research needs to be done in SoTL (learn more about this here). Most of the previous research conducted on this topic was correlational, which is a fine place to start, but these authors took it one step further. Taking these next steps is how the field will advance as a science!
Do you allow technology in the classroom? If so, how? If not, why?
written by Jen Blush
Fried, C. B. (2008). In class laptop use and its effects on student learning. Computers & Education, 50, 906–914. doi:10.1016/j. compedu.2006.09.006
Hutcheon, T. G., Lian, A., & Richard, A. (2019). The Impact of a Technology Ban on Students’ Perceptions and Performance in Introduction to Psychology. Teaching of Psychology, 46(1), 47-54.
Junco, R., & Cotton, S. R. (2012). No A 4 U: The relationship between multitasking and academic performance. Computers & Education, 59, 505–514. doi:10.1016/j.compedu.2011.12.023
Sana, F., Weston, T., & Cepeda, N. (2013). Laptop multitasking hin- ders classroom learning for both users and nearby peers. Comput- ers & Education, 62, 24–31. doi:10.1016/j.compedu.2012.10.003