The debate about whether laptop computers belong in the classroom took a new turn when a University of Colorado at Boulder professor found that students who bring laptops to class perform worse on tests than their computerless peers.
CU-Boulder professor Diane Sieber found that students in her class who brought laptops did 11 percent worse than their peers, she told CU-Boulder’s student newspaper on March 15. However, she said she had no plans to ban the machines, according to the article. Local professors and students echoed her sentiment and agreed that it is ultimately a student’s prerogative whether they want to pay attention.
College of Arts and Sciences professor Dan Clemens said as long as students are taking notes on their laptops, it is not a concern. Laptops should not be banned from class, he said.
‘It is like making a rule against daydreaming,’ Clemens said. ‘You wouldn’t do that.’
School of Hospitality Administration senior Gary Chan said paying attention should be a student’s priority.
‘If students don’t pay attention, they are wasting their own money for the classes,’ Chan said.’
College of Communication professor Mitchell Zuckoff allows laptops in class, he said. However, if a student shows an inability to concentrate on class material, Zuckoff said he thinks that student should leave the laptop at home.
‘If a laptop helps them avoid work, then they should consider other methods of note taking,’ Zuckoff said. ‘We have to treat college students like adults and assume that they are using the technology for the right reasons.” ‘
Banning laptops would negatively affect students, School of Management freshman Raymond Yu said.
‘It will make matters worse for students who are used to taking notes in that way,’ Yu said.
Boston College professor Pierluigi Balduzzi said he can tell usually pick out the students with laptops that are not able to resist the distraction during his 40-person lectures. About 25 of these students regularly bring laptops.
‘If students want to replicate what I am doing in class, it doesn’t bother me,’ Balduzzi said. ‘But when students use the laptop for other purposes, it distracts me from teaching,’
Students still do not generally bring laptops to classes with 20 people or less, CAS Anthropology Department Director Thomas Barfield said. Barfield said the number of laptops in a class is dependant on whether students feel they can get away with doing other things on their laptops, which is generally easier in larger lectures.’
‘The difference in terms of numbers [of laptops] is dependent on whether the professor can notice students or not,’ he said. ‘But it is easy to tell when the student is reading the newspaper instead of taking notes.’
The benefits of a laptop do depend on the class, College of General Sciences freshman Jasmine Rollins said.
‘Laptops are good for lectures but not discussions because of the smaller setting making the conversation impersonal,’ Rollins said.
College of Engineering freshman Jillian Kelley said if the result is beneficial, laptops should always be allowed.
‘I think its fine for students to use laptops in class if it helps them in taking better notes,’ Kelley said.