Law Students Use Laptops to Goof Off in Class, But They Also Aid Learning, Survey Says
Posted Mar 21, 2011 11:43 AM CST
By Debra Cassens Weiss
First-year law students at Temple and George Washington University acknowledged in a survey that they sometimes use laptops to goof off in class, but most felt the benefits of the devices outweigh the distractions.
The survey findings led Temple law professor Kristen Murray to conclude that law professors should allow laptops in their classes, the National Law Journal reports. She published her findings in a paper available at SSRN.
Murray surveyed 177 first-year students from the two law schools and learned that nearly 88 percent always or usually bring their laptops to class. They didn’t always use them for classroom work, however. Ninety-five percent check e-mail during class, 75 percent surf the Internet, and 57 percent send instant messages. But about 55 percent said they engage in such activities only occasionally.
While the laptops are sometimes a distraction, they also help learning, Murray says. Ninety-three percent of the students use laptops to take notes on class discussions, 82 percent review notes from past classes, 67 percent access relevant online materials, and almost 37 percent look up answers to the professor’s questions.
The survey helps dispel the myth that laptops inhibit classroom discussions, according to Murray. Fifty-nine percent of the students said laptops had no effect on class participation, and almost 18 percent said laptops made them more likely to participate.