Study: Most Students Use Digital Devices For Non-Class Purposes

More schools district across the country are embracing new technology and allowing the use of tablets and smartphones, but a recent study found that a majority of students use digital device for non-educational purposes in the classrooms.

A study conducted by Barney McCoy, associate professor of broadcasting at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, reveals that more than 90% of college students use digital devices for non-education activities during class, writes Karen Farkas of The Plain Dealer.

The study, based on a survey of 777 students at six colleges and universities, found that less than 8% said they do not use digital devices for non-class activities during instructional time. The study paper was published in the October issue of the The Journal of Media Education.

According to the research, most of the students who use digital devices for non-class activities were undergraduates. Graduate students were less likely to use their devices for non-class purposes. Undergraduates said they use their devices for non-class purposes 11 times a day, on average, compared to four times a day for graduate students.

While students admitted to being somewhat distracted by their own devices and those of others, they reported advantages to using the devices in class. The top three cited were staying connected (70%), avoiding boredom (55%) and doing related classwork (49%).

The study suggests colleges and universities look at how and why students feel the need to be online for non-academic reasons. The widespread use of digital devices in class makes it important for academics to get a better understanding, McCoy writes in the paper.

"When college students multitask with digital devices in classrooms, research indicates it may hamper their ability to pay attention," McCoy writes. "This behavior, research suggests, has become more habitual, automatic and distracting."

A new study from Ball State University also found that students prefer to live close to campus, the university said in a statement. College students like to live within a mile of campus despite much cheaper housing available several miles away, according to the study, which was published in a recent issue of Housing and Society, the journal of the Housing Education and Research Association.

Researchers found that college students are willing to pay an average of 16% more for an apartment located within one mile of the center of campus. Living outside a four-mile radius from campus carries an average 13% discount in rent.

"These distance levels are in line with the expected student lifestyle," Ball State professor Carla Earhart said in the news release. "Being within one mile of campus suggests the benefit of being within reasonable walking distance, while being outside four miles begins to segregate students from the ‘university district,' other college friends and easy use of the campus facilities.

But as it becomes easier to stay connected digitally, not every medium is working. The majority of students do not bother to check their e-mail regularly and say it is e-mail is boring. Students prefer social media and mobile phones to receive announcements from their colleges and universities, and many students consider their school e-mail accounts so irrelevant that they give their parents the passwords to take a look.

10 29, 2013
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