Is Internet Use in Class Comparable to Texting while Driving?


Writing for the website of Michigan Radio, an NPR station, Steve Carmody reports on a Michigan State study conducted by Prof. Susan Ravissa. In one of her lecture courses, 127 of the 507 enrolled students agreed to have their use of the Internet tracked during 15 of the 50-minute class periods.

Eighty-three percent of those students connected to the internet in at least half of the 15 class periods. Allowing for students’ academic preparation for university-level coursework (measured by ACT scores) and end-of-course surveys on students’ engagement with the course materials and their motivation to succeed in the course, Ravissa found that use of the internet for non-academic purposes—such as checking e-mail, using social media, or even shopping online—did correlate with a lower than expected performance in the course.

Indeed, she also discovered that connecting to the Internet to locate course-related materials did not seem to correlate with any…

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