Study: Smartphones could cripple learning for these students

By Ron Bethke, eCampus News Assistant Editor, @eCN_RonB
July 14th, 2015

First-time smartphone users say devices hinder, not help, learning.

study-smartphones-studentsA yearlong study from researchers at Rice University and the U.S. Air Force has revealed that first-time smartphone users felt the devices actually hindered their ability to learn.

The report, published in a recent edition of the British Journal of Educational Technology, reveals how participants rated the impact of smartphones on their learning process.

“Smartphone technology is penetrating world markets and becoming abundant in most college settings,” said study co-author Philip Kortum, an assistant professor of psychology at Rice. “We were interested to see how students with no prior experience using smartphones [either by choice or due to an equity gap] thought they impacted their education.”

The longitudinal study, funded by the National Science Foundation, was conducted from 2010 to 2011 and focused on 24 first-time smartphone users at Rice who were given iPhones. Participants were given no training on smartphone use prior to the study, and had to answer several questions about how they thought their device would impact their school work. Phone use was monitored throughout the year, and at the end of the study, participants answered the same set of questions so that researchers could compare users’ preconceived notions to their actual experiences.

Even though participants initially believed the iPhones would improve their performance on homework and tests and ultimately help them earn better grades, research revealed that the opposite was reported at the end of the study.

(Next page: Why users felt their smartphones were detrimental to learning)

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