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MSU Study: Internet use in class likened to "texting while driving"

steve carmody
Michigan Radio
MIchigan State University campus, East Lansing, Michigan

Many students received digital devices for Christmas and Hanukah presents this year. 

But a new Michigan State University study suggests the students should not go online when they return to class.

The research was conducted in a one-hour, 50-minute lecture course with 507 students. In all, 127 students agreed to participate in the study, which involved logging onto a proxy server when the students went online. Of those participants, 83 checked into the proxy server in more than half of the 15 course sessions during the semester and were included in the final analysis.

Intelligence was measured by ACT scores. Motivation to succeed in class was measured by an online survey sent to each participant when the semester was over.

MSU professor Susan Ravizza’s study showed many students spent class time checking emails, browsing social media, even shopping.

“Certainly if they are using it for non-academic purposes, that’s distracting and impairing their learning of class material,” says Ravizza, “but also, it doesn’t seem to be associated with any benefit for learning.”

Ravizza says students who explored the web in class to look up related material, didn’t see a benefit. 

She compares using the internet in class to “texting while driving.” 

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Radio since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.