The effects of using laptops in class

Students who use laptops in the classroom to take notes experienced a lower grade than those who handwrite their notes according to a study by the Association for Psychological Sciences. Ikram Toumi, an associate professor in communications studies, does not allow her students to use electronics during her class because of distractions. 

“I base my decision on research and my own observation in the classroom,” Toumi said. “I noticed that the grades change when I don’t allow technology in the classroom… students are paying attention, they have more feedback, they have more questions for you.” 

The discussions in the classroom became more engaging when Toumi asked her students to put away their electronics. 

“I was at the University of Texas at Austin… I was a teaching assistant and I worked with professors who allowed (technology) and professors who didn’t and I always noticed that those who didn’t, the class was much more alive than those who were logged in,” Toumi said. 

Mimi Freeman, a junior public relations student, used to take notes on her laptop but switched to using a pen and paper because she would become easily distracted. 

“I remember things so much better if I write them down by hand,” Freeman said.

In an article released by Harvard Graduate School of Education, students who used their laptops in class scored 11 percent lower than those who didn’t.

By writing things down, said Freeman, she is forced to listen to what the professor is actually saying and write the material in her own words. 

A common issue students run into when using their laptops in class is they get distracted by the internet or notifications. 

“A lot of times if I pull out my computer during class it’s because I know I’m expecting a text or I want to go online shopping,” Freeman said. 

Toumi recommends students turn off the internet when using their laptop to take notes. Programs such as SelfControl and Freedom allow students to block certain websites for a set time to stay on task. 

Although it can become a distraction, laptops are still used by students in class. Erin Miller, a senior business student, primarily uses her laptop to take notes in her classes.

“I have horrible handwriting,” she said, “and I usually study with my computer too. So when I go over my notes, I can hit control F and it’ll take me to exactly what I am looking for.” 

The ability to take notes on a laptop also gives students the chance to reorganize notes into a format that can help them study in the future, Miller said. 

“I just found a better way to study and retain the information, but it is distracting still because there is the internet and that whole world of distractions,” she said. 

Contact Katie Thompson at [email protected].