Computers don’t lead to higher scores, study suggests

A study of students taking an economics class at West Point shows a dip in scores when computers and tablets were used.

The use of computers may not lead to higher achievement rates, a new study found.

Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology studied the impact of computer usage on academic performance at the United States Military Academy, West Point, and found that students who used laptops in an economics class scored lower than their peers who did not use the technology.

They broke up students into three sections: one group could use laptops or tablets to take notes during lectures, another could use tablets lying flat on desktops to look at class materials, and a third groups was prohibited from using any technology.

Students in the laptop group scored about 1.7 points lower than the average score on the final exam, which was 72 out of 100 points.


The results “suggest that computer devices have a negative impact on academic performance,” the report’s authors concluded.

The authors – Susan Payne Carter, Kyle Greenberg and Michael S. Walker – added that students may be using their computer or tablet to surf the internet, check email and social media accounts, chat with friends or complete homework for another class.

Other reports have shown that students who are required to use laptops in class are not as effective at taking notes as students who use the traditional pen and paper.

Another possible reason for the decline in scores could be attributed to professors who decide to change their teaching strategies because of the ubiquitous presence of computers and tablets, the authors wrote.

Reach the reporter at and follow her on Twitter @clestch and @edscoop_news.

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