Sorry, Students: Low Test Scores Are Linked to Internet Use

Put that laptop away!

Flickr / ccarlstead

If you want to get good grades, you’ll have to put the laptop away. Researchers at Michigan State University studied students’ laptop habits during an introductory psychology course, and found the amount of class time a student spent online was a strong predictor of scores, even when intelligence and motivation were factored in. Perhaps most surprising was the fact that it didn’t matter whether the laptop use was relevant: even using the internet for class research did not impact the link.

“The detrimental relationship associated with non-academic internet use raises questions about the policy of encouraging students to bring their laptops to class when they are unnecessary for class use.” Susan Ravizza, lead author and associate professor at the university, said in a statement published Friday. The study, titled “Logged in and zoned out: How laptop internet use impacts classroom learning,” will be published in Psychological Science soon.

For the study, 127 students in a class of 507 agreed to participate, which involved logging on via a proxy during class time. Of those who participated, 83 logged in for more than half of the 15 sessions, and their semester scores were used for the final analysis. American College Test scores were used to measure overall intelligence, and motivation was measured using a survey.

So if you want to get ahead, you’re probably going to have to break the habit and shut the lid during class:


Ravizza’s students probably aren’t too happy about the study, either. “I now ask students to sit in the back if they want to bring their laptop to class so their internet use is not distracting other students,” she said.