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Laptops in Learning Process in the Classroom


This study focuses on investigating the effects of personal computers on students’ learning process and academic study during class. It examines how laptops impact on the learning process, and if the effects are adverse or favorable. The study utilized experimental method of data collection in which two experiments were carried out. The first experiment involved a sample population of 40 students, which was shared equally with regard to gender. The second experiment consisted of 53 students where 27 were females. The first experiment revealed that students who had laptops were outperformed by those who did not have. In the second experiment, learners who sat near those who had personal computers performed poorer that those who sat some distance from them. The findings indicated that some students used computers for other purposes other than learning during class. The results also demonstrated that interference lowers the level of concentration, hindering the learning process. The study concluded that if laptops would be used, care should be taken to prevent learners from using them for other purposes other than the intended ones.

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Introduction (background to the study and problem of the statement)

The application of modern technology is critical for the effective and efficient performance of tasks in many industries (Hew & Brush, 2007). Many countries across the world encourage the utilization of technology in all sectors, education sector included. Institutions of learning have introduced laptops, which are used by learners to perform tasks, including taking notes during class time (Curzan, 2014; Hew & Brush, 2007). The use of technology is meant to improve the efficiency and help learners to perform tasks faster. Some scholars, such as Bowman, Levine, Waite, and Gendron (2010) have argued that laptops act as distracters, while others contend that they enhance learning among learners.

According to Fried (2008) students who write notes using laptops forget faster than those who write using their hands. The argument of this research is that learners tend to use them to text friends, play games, and surf the internet. The researcher argues that longhand notes help to retrieve information during the process of encoding, reinforcing conceptual understanding (Fried, 2008).

On the other hand, Thompson (2013) disputes this fact and contends that the use of laptops has positive impacts on students’ concentration and learning process. He argues that this is the case, especially when they are used for the correct purposes. According to him, they are essential for multitasking (Thompson, 2013). The application of laptops in institutions has become among the most debated issues in the world. This is because their use has demonstrated both negative and positive effects. The proponents of the application of laptops in the learning process and during study in class argue that it minimizes time wastage and promotes efficiency (Thompson, 2013). On the other hand, critics argue that many learners use them for unintended purposes. In this view, there is a need to investigate whether their utilization has positive or negative effects. This paper focuses on discussing how laptops affect students’ learning process and academy study during class.

Research question

What are the effects of laptops on students’ learning process and academic study during class?


There are effects of laptops on students’ learning processes and academic study during class.

Literature review

Increasing performance outcomes is among the goals of many institutions in many nations. Different institutions utilize different approaches in order to improve their results and produce excellent results, particularly in learning. To improve efficiency, institutions’ administrations have encouraged learners and instructors to employ the modern technology, specifically laptops during teaching and learning process. However, their application has raised several issues with regard to their effects on the learning process. A study was conducted by Wurst, Smarkola, and Gaffney (2008) to investigate the effectiveness of laptop in the learning process during class. The researchers found that laptops cause classroom distractions. According to the scholars, the distractions are common, especially in institutions of higher learning (Wurst et al., 2008). Thus, it is critical to instructors to be keen when teaching learners who are using laptops during class.

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This study is disputed by Weston and Bain (2010) who demonstrate that the use of laptops helps to promote learning through active strategic approaches to teaching, enhancing academic success. The scholars contend that when personal computers are used to take notes, apply programs, and access supplementary resources, such as viewing of power points in classes, they increase contentment, motivation, and involvement among learners (Weston& Bain, 2010). It is correct to say that they increase levels of efficiency when they are employed for the correct purposes.

Despite this fact, in a study conducted by Sana, Weston, and Cepeda (2013) to find out the how personal computers influence learning and educational productivity, researchers indicated that learners who use them in class have demonstrated low satisfaction due to the fact that they perform many tasks at the same time. In addition, this fact has been supported by students’ self-reports and research conducted through observation, which indicated that students use them for non-academic purposes (Sana, et al., 2013). For example, learners write messages and play games while professors are teaching.

In a study conducted by Rosen, Mark Carrier, and Cheever (2013) to investigate what causes a decline in performance, yet learners use the personal computers, the scholars found that many students used computers to browse and chat through their emails. Furthermore, online entertainments are more interesting than professors, leading to a decline in learning outcomes (Rosen et al., 2013). This is evident in the fact that their concentration on course materials decreases, making them fail in exams. From above studies, it is clear that the use of laptops on students’ learning processes and academic studies could result in either positive or negative effects.


In this study two experiments were carried out. In the first experiment, a sample of 40 students from a psychology class was chosen, 20 of each gender. Their age was between 19 and 20 years. The study used experimental design, where 20 learners were expected to participate using their personal computers and the other 20 students were expected to study using papers and pens. The research was conducted within three consecutive class lectures. Students were given questionnaires to fill. It aimed at evaluating how laptops affected the learning process. In addition, the study investigated the effects of concentration on performance outcomes. Data were analyzed by marking what they had written.

The second experiment, focused on examining whether there was an effect of sitting near a multitasking learner. A new sample was selected that involved 53 postgraduate students. Out of 53 students, 27 were females whose average ages were 19.4 years. The other number composed of males of 22 years. Their sitting arrangement was mixed up, implying that those with laptops sat together who had those who did not have.


From the study, students who studied using papers and pens outperformed those who studied using their laptops. This was evident by the fact that students who used computers scored lower marks compared with those who did it manually. This was attributed to interference with other things during the study. In the second experiment, learners who sat near those who had computers were affected, although not as much as those who had them. For example, during lectures some students were found chatting, while others were being entertained, drawing the attention of those who were near them.


From the first experiment, the results indicated that students who had laptops were outperformed by those who did not have. These findings proved that learners who use personal computers to study are likely to engage in other activities. Despite the fact that all students seemed to listen attentively, the use of personal computers drew their attention to other things, such as texting, chatting, and watching movies. As a result, their performance declined. The second experiment demonstrated that those who had sat near learners with computers performed poorer that those who had sat away from them. From the results, it is right to state that multitasking hinders comprehension of information during the learning process. In addition, personal computers may not yield positive results, unless they are used carefully. These findings are in line with Jones, Johnson-Yale, Millermaier, and Pérez (2008) findings who argue that performing many tasks at the same time interferes with both simple and complex learning, decreasing performance outcomes as a result of inhibition of the learning process. Some learners have reported themselves that they play games, chat, and send text messages when the instructor is teaching. According to Jones and colleagues (2008), this is the case, especially when the instructor addresses the learners when standing in the same position.

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The use of laptops can either promote or hinder the learning process. Effective study methods are essential for high-quality performance in schools. As aforementioned in the study, the utilization of laptops in the learning process has adverse effects. From the study, it is evident that many students who use laptops do not concentrate on what instructors are teaching, but on other things, such as watching movies, chatting, and playing games. Furthermore, those who engage in such activities affect others, especially those who sit near them by drawing their attention, making them lose focus. It is important to underscore that despite the fact, those who advocate their use posit that they promote efficiency and help students to retrieve information faster than when they use papers and pens. Many studies have shown that in most cases they make learners lose focus, and forget that they are in class.

However, it is important to state that some students benefit from the use of computers. This is the case particularly for Information Technology class. The laptops are necessary because they are useful in doing practical. Some learners also gain from them because they can use software program and power point viewing. Therefore, it is recommended that laptops should be utilized with a lot of care if institutions wish to promote efficiency and improve performance outcomes. In addition, instructors should be keen and ensure that all students are doing what they are expected to do.


Bowman, L. L., Levine, L. E., Waite, B. M., & Gendron, M. (2010). Can students really multitask? An experimental study of instant messaging while reading. Computers & Education, 54(4), 927-931.

Curzan, A. (2014). Why I’m asking you not to use laptops. Chronicle of Higher Education. Web.

Jones, S., Johnson-Yale, C., Millermaier, S., & Pérez, F. S. (2008). Academic work, the Internet and US college students. The Internet and Higher Education, 11(3), 165-177.

Fried, C. B. (2008). In-class laptop use and its effects on student learning. Computers & Education, 50(3), 906-914.

Hew, K. F., & Brush, T. (2007). Integrating technology into K-12 teaching and learning: Current knowledge gaps and recommendations for future research. Educational Technology Research and Development, 55(3), 223-252.

Rosen, L. D., Mark Carrier, L., & Cheever, N. A. (2013). Facebook and texting made me do it: Media-induced task-switching while studying. Computers in Human Behavior, 29(3), 948-958.

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Sana, F., Weston, T., & Cepeda, N. J. (2013). Laptop multitasking hinders classroom learning for both users and nearby peers. Computers & Education, 62, 24-31.

Thompson, P. (2013). The digital natives as learners: Technology use patterns and approaches to learning. Computers & Education, 65, 12-33.

Weston, M. E., & Bain, A. (2010). The end of techno-critique: The naked truth about 1: 1 laptop initiatives and educational change. The Journal of Technology, Learning and Assessment, 9(6), 24-31.

Wurst, C., Smarkola, C., & Gaffney, M. A. (2008). Ubiquitous laptop usage in higher education: Effects on student achievement, student satisfaction, and constructivist measures in honors and traditional classrooms. Computers & Education, 51(4), 1766-1783.

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