Why and How Students Use Electronics to Enhance Their Learning

Grant program: Teaching and Learning Development Grant (TLDG)

Grant recipient: Ivona Mladenovic, Department of Biological Sciences

Timeframe: October 2016 to July 2017

Project team: Ananya Mukherjee, research assistant

Funding: $5,000

Courses addressed:

  • BISC 101 – General Biology
  • BISC 102 – General Biology

Final report: View Ivona Mladenovic's final report (PDF)

Description: Using electronic devices (smart phones, lap tops, and tablets) in classes is somewhat controversial among colleagues and educational practitioners. Some consider electronics distracting, even if used for the purpose of learning; some completely ban electronic devices during their classes; some allow and even support usage of laptops and smart phones in classes. To my current knowledge, electronic devices in classrooms are usually used for learning purposes either as a note-taking tools (by students) or as a response system (by instructors). I want to find out if usage of electronics during classes can help students’ learning overall.

Questions addressed:

  • What electronic devices do students use in class (to support their learning)?
  • How do students report using electronic devices in class to support their learning?
  • What is students’ perception of electronics usage during class in enhancing their class engagement, participation, and learning?
  • Do students consider that using electronics for learning is a good educational tool, and why?
  • How else do students prefer to use electronics in classes (other than a note-taking or a response system)?
  • Does usage of electronics outside of class help students learn better, and if so, how?
  • How would students like to see instructors making use of electronic devices in class and out of class?
  • Which ways of using electronic devices in class and out of class do students believe most helps their overall learning?

Knowledge sharing:

Mladenovic, I. (2017, November). Research Bites. Presentation at the Symposium 2018: Scholarly Teaching and Learning in Post-Secondary Education, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, BC.

Mladenovic, I. (2018, May). Why and how students use electronics to enhance their learning. Poster presented at the 14th Annual Learning Conference - Creating Space for Learning, University of British Columbia, Kelowna, BC.

Keywords: Technology use; focus group; survey; Electronics usage; laptops; cell phones; science education

Ivona Mladenovic

Ananya Mukherjee