Journal of Computing in Higher Education

, Volume 28, Issue 1, pp 18–44 | Cite as

Assessing laptop use in higher education: The Laptop Use Scale

  • Robin Kay
  • Sharon Lauricella


The laptop computer is considered one of the most used and important technological devices in higher education, yet limited systematic research has been conducted to develop a measure of laptop use in college and university. The purpose of the following study was to develop a research-based, theoretically grounded scale to assess student use of laptops inside and outside higher education classrooms. The Laptop Use Scale addressed four key areas: in-class academic use, in-class non-academic use, outside of class academic use, and outside of class non-academic use. Tested on 156 higher education students using laptops computers, the Laptop Use Scale showed acceptable internal reliability and good validity (face, content, construct, and convergent validity). It is argued that this scale can help assess and calibrate pedagogical strategies used to integrate laptops into higher education classrooms. Suggestions for future research on assessing student use of laptops are offered including a focus on multi-tasking behavior.


Evaluate Assess Use Scale Higher education University Laptop 


  1. Aguilar-Roca, N. M., Williams, A. E., & O’Dowd, D. K. (2012). The impact of laptop-free zones on student performance and attitudes in large lectures. Computers and Education, 59(4), 1300–1308. doi: 10.1016/j.compedu.2012.05.002.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Annan-Coultas, D. L. (2012). Laptops as instructional tools: Student perceptions. TechTrends, 56(5), 34–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Awwad, F., & Ayesh, A. (2013). Effectiveness of laptop usage in UAS university undergraduate teaching. The Turkish Online Journal of Educational Technology, 12(2), 77–88.Google Scholar
  4. Barak, M., Lipson, A., & Lerman, S. (2006). Wireless laptops as means for promoting active learning in large lecture halls. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 38(3), 245–263.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Barkhuus, L. (2005). Bring your own laptop unless you want to follow the lecture: Alternative communication in the classroom. In Proceedings of the 2005 International ACM SIGGROUP Conference on Supporting Group Work (pp. 140–143). New York, ACM. doi:  10.1145/1099203.1099230.
  6. Bruner, J. (1960). The process of education. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Carfio, J., & Perla, R. (2008). Resolving the 50-year debate around using and misusing Likert scales. Medical Education, 42(12), 1150–1152. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2923.2008.03172.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Dahlstrom, E., Walker, J. D., & Dziuban, C, M. (2013). The ECAR study of undergraduate students and information technology (Research Report). Louiseville, CO: EDUCAUSE Center for Analysis and Research. Retrieved from
  9. Dalsgaard, C., & Godsk, M. (2007). Transforming traditional lectures into problem-based blended learning: Challenges and experiences. Open Learning: The Journal of Open, Distance and e-Learning, 22(1), 29–42. doi: 10.1080/02680510601100143.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Debevec, K., Shih, M., & Kashyap, V. (2006). Learning strategies and performance in a technology integrated classroom. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 38(3), 293–307.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. DiGangi, S., Kilic, Z., Yu, C. H., Jannasch-Pennell, A., Long, L., Kim, C., et al. (2007). One to one computing in higher education: A survey of technology practices and needs. AACE Journal, 15(4), 367–387.Google Scholar
  12. Enfield, J. (2014). Looking at the impact of the flipped classroom model of instruction on undergraduate multimedia students at CSUN. TechTrends, 57(6), 14–27. doi: 10.1007/s11528-013-0698-1.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Field, A. (2005). Discovering statistics using SPSS (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  14. Fried, C. B. (2008). In-class laptop use and its effects on student learning. Computers and Education, 50(3), 906–914.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Gagné, R. (1985). The conditions of learning. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.Google Scholar
  16. Gaudreau, P., Miranda, D., & Gareau, A. (2014). Canadian university students in wireless classrooms: What do they do on their laptops and does it really matter? Computers and Education, 70(3), 245–255. doi: 10.1016/j.compedu.2013.08.019.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Hyden, P. (2005). Teaching statistics by taking advantage of the laptop’s ubiquity. New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 101, 37–42.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Jamieson, S. (2004). Likert scales: how to (ab)use them. Medical Education, 38(12), 1217–1218. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2929.2004.02012.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Kay, R. H., & Lauricella, S. (2011). Exploring the benefits and challenges of using laptop computers in higher education classrooms: A formative analysis. Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology, 37(1). Retrieved from
  20. Kay, R. H. & Lauricella, S. (2014). Investigating the benefits and challenges of using laptop computers in higher education. Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology, 40(2), 1–25. Retrieved from
  21. Kline, P. (1999). The handbook of psychological testing (2nd ed.). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  22. Kolb, A. Y., & Kolb, D. A. (2005). Learning styles and learning spaces: Enhancing experiential learning in higher education. Academy of Management Learning and Education, 4(2), 193–212. doi: 10.5465/AMLE.2005.17268566.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Kraushaar, J. M., & Novak, D. C. (2010). Examining the effects of student multitasking with laptops during the lecture. Journal of Information Systems Education, 21(2), 241–251.Google Scholar
  24. Kuzon, W. M., Urbanchek, M. G., & McCabe, S. (1996). The seven deadly sins of statistical analysis. Annals of Plastic Surgery, 37, 265–272.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Lasry, N., Mazur, E., & Watkins, J. (2008). Peer instruction: From Harvard to the two-year college. American Association of Physics Teachers, 76(11), 1066–1069. Retrieved from
  26. Lauricella, S. & Kay, R. H. (2010). Assessing laptop use in higher education classrooms: The laptop effectiveness scale (LES). Australian Journal of Educational Technology, 26(2), 151–163. Retrieved from
  27. Laurillard, D. (2002). Rethinking university teaching. A conversational framework for the effective use of learning technologies. London: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Lave, J., & Wenger, E. (1991). Situated learning: Legitimate peripheral participation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Lewis, S. E., & Lewis, J. E. (2005). Departing from lectures: An evaluation of a peer-led guided inquiry alternative. Journal of Chemical Education, 82(1), 135. doi: 10.1021/ed082p135.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Lindroth, T., & Bergquist, M. (2010). Laptopers in an educational practice: Promoting the personal learning situation. Computers and Education, 54(2), 311–320. doi: 10.1016/j.compedu.2009.07.014.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Mayes, T., & de Freitas, S. (2007). Technology-enhanced learning: The role of theory. In H. Beetham & R. Sharpe (Eds.), Rethinking pedagogy for a digital age (pp. 17–30). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  32. McCreary, J. R. (2009). The laptop-free zone. Valparaiso University Law Review, 43, 1–87.Google Scholar
  33. Miles, M. B., & Hubrman, M. (1994). Qualitative data analysis (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publication.Google Scholar
  34. Murray, J. (2013). Likert data: What to use, parametric or non-parametric? International Journal of Business and Social Science, 4(11), 258–264.Google Scholar
  35. Newell, A. (1980). One final word. In D. T. Tuma & F. Reif (Eds.), Problem solving and education: Issues in teaching and research (pp. 175–189). Hillsdale, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  36. Norman, G. (2010). Likert scales, levels of measurement and the ‘‘laws’’ of statistics. Advances in Health Sciences Education—Theory and Practice, 15(5), 625–632. doi: 10.1007/s10459-010-9222-y.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Nunnally, J. C. (1978). Psychometric theory. New York: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  38. Pew Research Center. (2013). Social media update 2013. Washington: DC. Retrieved from
  39. Piaget, J. (1970). Science of education and the psychology of the child. New York: Orion Press.Google Scholar
  40. Prensky, M. (2010). Teaching digital natives. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.Google Scholar
  41. Sana, F., Weston, T., & Cepeda, N. J. (2013). Laptop multitasking hinders classroom learning for both users and nearby peers. Computers and Education, 62(1), 24–31. doi: 10.1016/j.compedu.2012.10.003.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Skolnik, R., & Puzo, M. (2008). Utilization of laptop computers in the school of business classroom. Academy of Educational Leadership Journal, 12(2), 1–10.Google Scholar
  43. Small, G., & Vorgan, G. (2009). iBrain: Surviving the technological alteration of the modern mind. New York: Harper.Google Scholar
  44. Tapscott, D. (2009). Grown up digital: How the Net generation is changing your world. New York: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  45. Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind and society. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  46. Wilson, B. G., & Myers, K. M. (2000). Situated cognition is theoretical and practical context. In D. H. Jonassen & S. M. Land (Eds.), Theoretical foundations of learning environments (pp. 57–86). New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  47. Wurst, C., Smarkola, C., & Gaffney, M. A. (2008). Ubiquitous laptop usage in higher education: Effects on student achievement, student satisfaction, and constructivist measures in honors and traditional classrooms. Computers and Education, 51(4), 1766–1783. doi: 10.1016/j.compedu.2008.05.006.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of EducationUniversity of Ontario Institute of TechnologyOshawaCanada
  2. 2.Faculty of Social Science and HumanitiesUniversity of Ontario Institute of TechnologyOshawaCanada

Personalised recommendations