According to current research and Stevenson faculty input, technology is showing to have cognitive influences on students, both beneficial and detrimental.
Faculty and students are encouraged to be aware of the implications of technology in the classroom by current research. Research suggests that simply the presence of technology negatively influences students cognitively.
According to a study on the impact of technology on post-secondary classroom culture by LearnTechLib in 2019, students and professors should be educated about effective ways to use technology in classrooms and learning environments. The research added that instructors should understand the purpose of technology as well, where they can identify the correct tool for the correct learning outcome.
However, technology might be having a larger cognitive impact in the classroom than what some people may think. Students will want to reconsider whether or not they want to have their phones out during classes, according to this research.
Richard L. Metzger, senior lecturer of psychology, said that about three years ago, several students and faculty at Stevenson asked what the impact was of a student simply having his or her cell phone out on the desk during class. Metzger explained that they presented several papers at different conferences on this topic, and according to Metzger, one of those papers won an award for undergraduate research from the Southeastern Psychological Association.
Metzger said the studies showed that just having a cell phone out while performing a cognitive or memory task changed a student’s attention so much that performance worsened. The people who had put their phones away did significantly better than those who had them out, added Metzger.
“The message is pretty clear: when you’ve got your phone out, it is costing you something, [which includes] attentional quality and accuracy in different kinds of ways,” said Metzger.
There are attentional issues that become clear when students simply put technology in front of them, such as taking notes on a laptop during class, said Metzger. There is evidence that when students take notes with their notebook, they actually perform better, added Metzger.
However, technology is definitely beneficial to students and faculty in the classroom. Metzger said that 25 years ago, he would drive with his students and colleagues once a week to a library in Atlanta, Georgia, to print the most up-to-date copies of the latest literature. “[Today] my students can look at the latest literature pretty easily if they want to,” added Metzger.
Those who have more questions about this research or about the topic can email Metzger through campus email.