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The impact of laptop-free zones on student performance and attitudes in large lectures

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Computers & Education Volume 59, Number 4, ISSN 0360-1315 Publisher: Elsevier Ltd


The goal of this study was to determine if laptop use in lecture negatively impacts learning outcomes of surrounding students taking notes on paper. Two sections of a large introductory biology course (>400 students/section) were zoned into a laptop-permitted and a laptop-free area. Two sections in which laptop users could sit anywhere served as the Control. There was no difference in the attendance (∼85%) or percentage of students using laptops (∼29%) between Zoned and Control sections. Academic performance, based on exam points earned, was not significantly different for paper users in Zoned and Control sections indicating laptop use did not impair the overall achievement of surrounding students. However, there was a correlation between exam performance and note taking preference: paper note takers scored significantly higher and laptop users scored significantly lower than predicted by pre-class academic indicators (p < 0.01, paired t-test). The majority of both laptop (64%) and paper users (82%) in the Zoned sections supported a policy restricting laptop use to specific areas. Thus, while we further investigate whether the relationship between laptop use and performance is correlative or causative, zoning is an effective method for accommodating both laptop users and paper note takers in the same lecture hall.


Aguilar-Roca, N.M., Williams, A.E. & O'Dowd, D.K. (2012). The impact of laptop-free zones on student performance and attitudes in large lectures. Computers & Education, 59(4), 1300-1308. Elsevier Ltd. Retrieved May 20, 2019 from .

This record was imported from Computers & Education on January 31, 2019. Computers & Education is a publication of Elsevier.

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