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Study suggests no tech in classroom could help students

Falcon News Service

October 14, 2022

No technology in the classroom may lead to fewer distractions and more student engagement, attention and participation, according to a recent study.

Keith A. Quesenberry, an associate professor of marketing at Messiah University, saw notable differences in these areas in his study, “Engaging the Disengaged: Implementing a No-Tech Policy After Years of Adding Tech to the Classroom,” published in Journalism & Mass Communication Educator.

After some students in his courses at the Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, university suggested laptop computers not be allowed in class, Quesenberry studied the literature and decided to adopt a ban on laptops, tablets and mobile phones.

“I think our default to approaching any problem is always to add, but sometimes the solution can be found in looking at what we can subtract,” said Quesenberry.

He reported that he noticed an improvement in student performance.

“After a semester with my new no-tech policy in three courses, I saw noticeable differences in student engagement, attention, and participation during class,” Quesenberry wrote. “I also saw significant gains in course project performance out of class.”

At UW-River Falls, Teaching, Learning and Technology Specialist Rachelle Haroldson supports instructors through a variety of learning through technology. Haroldson, who also is a clinical associate professor in the Teacher Education program, collaborates with faculty across campus with technology integration and general support. She works with instructors who use technology a little to a lot.

“It really depends on the instructor and their goals and outcomes in their objectives, and what their intent is with using technology,” said Haroldson and added, “whether that by decreasing technology use, they can achieve their goals, or by increasing the use of technology that helps them achieve their goals.”

From student to student, it varies with what works for them. Some students take notes with a paper and pencil and others will use laptops to type notes. It varies depending upon college attending and their end goals.

For UW-River Falls student Autumn Hartshorn, she’s looking forward to implementing technology practices in her classrooms after graduation.

“As a future music teacher, I am really excited about all the possibilities technology will be able to help me and my future students,” said Hartshorn.

When in conversations with instructors, a common trend Haroldson speaks about is how to use analytics. Many instructors utilize the learning management system Canvas to assignment dropboxes to posting lecture material. Analyzing data from quizzes can even help guide the lesson plans for the semester.

“I think by using the quiz tool within Canvas, instructors are able to understand and can quickly get that snapshot of what their students are at and how they can work to improve them in those areas where maybe they found weaknesses,” said Haroldson.

While there are many benefits to technology, there are also disadvantages.

“I think for all of us, whether we’re learners or teachers, or students or instructors, technology can be distracting,” said Haroldson.

Haroldson emphasized it’s up to the teacher to implement technology, but she sees it as a useful resource and tool for instructors to use.

“Rather them asking what technology tool can I use, they’re asking a question around what’s the learning that I want to happen in my classroom,” said Haroldson.

Technology is not a hidden secret at UW-River Falls and while many professors utilize the many benefits, some may not use it as much. It varies as technology continues to grow, but the challenge continues to exist with student engagement.

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