Houston, Jul 8: Smartphones may be detrimental to the users' ability to learn, a year-long study of first-time mobile device users suggests.
The research shows the self-rated impact of smartphones among the users. "Smartphone technology is penetrating world markets and becoming abundant in most college settings," said Philip Kortum, assistant professor of psychology at Rice University in Houston and the study's co-author.
"We were interested to see how students with no prior experience using smartphones thought they impacted their education," said Kortum.
The research shows that while users initially believed the mobile devices would improve their ability to perform well with homework and tests and ultimately get better grades, the opposite was reported at the end of the study.
The longitudinal study from 2010 to 2011 focused on 24 first-time smartphone users at a major research university in Texas. Prior to the study, the participants were given no training on smartphone use and were asked to answer several questions about how they thought a smartphone would impact their school-related tasks.
The students then received smartphones, and their phone use was monitored during the following year. At the end of the study, the students answered the same questions.
Kortum noted that the study did not address the structured use of smartphones in an educational setting. He said that the study's findings have important implications for the use of technology in education.
"Previous studies have provided ample evidence that when smartphones are used with specific learning objects in mind, they can significantly enhance the learning experience," Kortum said.
"However, our research clearly demonstrates that simply providing access to a smartphone, without specific directed learning activities, may actually be detrimental to the overall learning process," Kortum added.
The research appeared in the British Journal of Educational Technology.