College students might want to leave their smartphones and tablets behind when they head to a lecture, new research suggests. Otherwise, the distraction might translate into a lower grade on the final exam.
Researchers at Rutgers University in New Jersey followed 118 cognitive psychology students for one term, banning electronic devices in half of their attended lectures and permitting them in the other half. When the devices were allowed, students reported whether they had used them for non-learning purposes during the lecture.
Having an electronic device wasn't associated with lower students' scores in comprehension tests within lectures, but was associated with at least a 5 percent (half-a-grade) lower score in end-of-term exams.
The research is described in "Dividing Attention in the Classroom Reduces Exam Performance," published in the journal Educational Psychology.
"These findings should alert the many dedicated students and instructors that dividing attention is having an insidious effect that is impairing their exam performance and final grade," says study author Arnold Glass, a professor at Rutgers. Mengxue Kang is co-author of the study.
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