International Council for Educational Media

Kara Sage, Sophia Jackson, Larissa Mauer & Kayden Stockdale: Equal in effectiveness but not yet perception: smartphones and laptops for completing brief academic tasks

Students frequently recruit digital devices to aid their academics. Past research has often focused on computers, with growing research on more mobile devices like tablets. Despite owning smartphones at high rates, little research has focused on college students’ use of smartphones for academics. In the present study, students were randomly assigned to use either their smartphone or laptop to complete six brief academic tasks. They then answered questions regarding perceptions of these devices for the research tasks as well as their more general experiences with, and perceptions of, such mobile devices in education. Results showed that smartphones and laptops were equally effective for completing the tasks, but student perceptions favored laptops over smartphones. Quantitative and qualitative data also suggested that, while students saw significant educational value in laptops, views on smartphones were mixed. That said, students also identified approaches where smartphones could be particularly for classroom activities. If implemented in ways that highlight their affordances, both laptops and smartphones can be effective educational tools allowing for diverse approaches in the classroom. Full Article