The impact of computer usage on academic performance: Evidence from a randomized trial at the United States Military Academy

December 2016

The authors present find­ings from a study that pro­hib­it­ed com­put­er devices in ran­dom­ly select­ed class­rooms of an intro­duc­to­ry eco­nom­ics course at the United States Military Academy. Average final exam scores among stu­dents assigned to class­rooms that allowed com­put­ers were 0.18 stan­dard devi­a­tions low­er than exam scores of stu­dents in class­rooms that pro­hib­it­ed com­put­ers. Through the use of two sep­a­rate treat­ment arms, they uncov­er evi­dence that this neg­a­tive effect occurs in class­rooms where lap­tops and tablets are per­mit­ted with­out restric­tion and in class­rooms where stu­dents are only per­mit­ted to use tablets that must remain flat on the desk.