Illustration of hand with smart phone


Illustration by Daniel Baxter

Few teachers like to see students using their cell phones in class. Now a Rutgers study explains why: they impede learning. In the study, appearing in Educational Psychology, half of the college students were allowed to use phones, tablets, and laptops in class; the other half were not. The device-wielding students had an average final grade that was 5 percent, or half a grade, lower. “Dividing attention is having an insidious effect that is impairing exam performance and final grades,” says Arnold Glass, a psychology professor in the School of Arts and Sciences at Rutgers University–New Brunswick, who led the study.