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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


No technology allowed in UA classrooms

UA professors are beginning to implement a no-laptop, no-tablet policy in their classrooms, citing research as a reason for creating the policy.

Some students listed courses with professors using this policy: elementary Latin I, introductory physics II, introductory biology, introduction to international relations, readings in the literary genres and history of medieval India.

Maha Nassar, professor of the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict course, said that the switch from the “mixed policy” she has employed in the past was spurred by “the overwhelming research,” referring to studies that have come out over the past six months about the retention rate of students who use laptops in class versus those who write out their notes by hand.

One study, called “The Pen Is Mightier Than the Keyboard: Advantages of Longhand Over Laptop Note Taking,” was conducted by Pam A. Mueller of Princeton University and Daniel M. Oppenheimer of the University of California, Los Angeles.

“Even when laptops are used solely to take notes, they may still be impairing learning, because their use results in shallower processing,” the study claims. “Whereas taking more notes can be beneficial, laptop note takers’ tendency to transcribe lectures verbatim rather than processing information and reframing it in their own words is detrimental to learning.”

Students are split on the changes.

“It is probably a good idea because, in my personal experience, I’m going to open up Facebook if I have my laptop out,” said Random Skevington, a history junior.

Yezan Hassan, a freshman studying pre-neuroscience and cognitive science, had a different take. Hassan is enrolled in an introductory biology course whose professor is implementing a similar policy.

“I don’t agree with the policy,” Hassan said. “I believe each student knows how they learn, and it shouldn’t be up to the teacher to restrict laptop usage.”

Students, after being made aware of the research that supports the policy, did not swear off laptops completely.

“I’d credit the research and try [taking notes] without a laptop,” said Noam Afek, a freshman studying pre-neuroscience and cognitive science. “If I found out I do better with it, I’d still use it.”
Although Nassar acknowledged that the change might be difficult at first, she believes that “the extra time spent taking notes will be mitigated by less studying time.”

Nassar said only more research on the topic would change her mind about her laptop and tablet policy.

—Follow Max Rodriguez @njmaxrod

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