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Assessing laptop use in higher education: The Laptop Use Scale

Abstract

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.

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Correspondence to Robin Kay.

Appendix: Laptop Use Scale

Appendix: Laptop Use Scale

Background information

  1. 1.

    What is your gender? (Male, Female)

  2. 2.

    What year of university are you in? (1, 2, 3 or 4)

  3. 3.

    What was your average grade in all your courses last year? (<50, 50–59, 60–69, 70–70, 80–89, 90+)

  4. 4.

    What course are you taking? _____________

  5. 5.

    What is your average in the course right now? (<50, 50–59, 60–69, 70–70, 80–89, 90+)

  6. 6.

    How comfortable are you with using computer technology? (Not at all Comfortable, Somewhat Comfortable, Comfortable, Very Comfortable)

  7. 7.

    About how many hours per day do you spend using your laptop computer? _____

Academic use DURING class

How often did you do the following activities DURING class in this course?

  Never Rarely Sometimes Freq Very Freq
1. Take notes on my laptop 1 2 3 4 5
2. Use the notes posted by the instructor 1 2 3 4 5
3. Search the web for academic purposes 1 2 3 4 5
4. Use online interactive tools (for example learning objects, applets) 1 2 3 4 5
5. Participate in online surveys 1 2 3 4 5
6. Follow a PowerPoint presentation on your laptop computer 1 2 3 4 5
7. Communicate with peers for academic reasons (for example instant messaging, email) 1 2 3 4 5
8. Use a software program for academic purposes (e.g. Word, Excel, Access) 1 2 3 4 5
  1. 9.

    Overall what (if any) do you see are the biggest benefits to having a laptop IN class for this course? Why?

Non-academic use DURING class

How often did you do the following activities DURING class in this course?

  Never Rarely Sometimes Freq Very Freq
1. Play games 1 2 3 4 5
2. Watch movies 1 2 3 4 5
3. Watch short video clips for personal use (for example YouTube) 1 2 3 4 5
4. Search the web for personal reasons 1 2 3 4 5
5. Go on Facebook 1 2 3 4 5
6. Use Twitter 1 2 3 4 5
7. Use instant messaging for personal reasons (for example MSN, Skype) 1 2 3 4 5
8. Use email for personal reasons 1 2 3 4 5
  1. 9.

    Overall what (if any) do you see are the biggest distractions to having a laptop IN class for this course? Why?

Academic OUTSIDE if class

How often did you do the following activities OUTSIDE of class in this course?

  Never Rarely Sometimes Freq Very Freq
1. Organizing course notes and materials 1 2 3 4 5
2. Search the web for academic purposes 1 2 3 4 5
3. Online interactive activities (for example learning objects. Applets) 1 2 3 4 5
4. Using a software program for academic purposes (for example Word, Excel) 1 2 3 4 5
5. Sharing notes and course resources 1 2 3 4 5
6. Communicate with peers for academic purposes (for example instant messaging, email) 1 2 3 4 5
7. Working with peers on assigned group work 1 2 3 4 5
8. Getting help from peers on computer related tasks 1 2 3 4 5
9. Searching the university library databases for articles/books 1 2 3 4 5
  1. 10.

    Overall what (if any) do you see are the biggest benefits to having a laptop OUTSIDE class? Why?

Non-academic use DURING class

How often did you do the following activities DURING class in this course?

  Never Rarely Sometimes Freq Very Freq
1. Play games 1 2 3 4 5
2. Watch movies 1 2 3 4 5
3. Watch short video clips for personal use (for example You Tube) 1 2 3 4 5
4. Search the web for personal reasons 1 2 3 4 5
5. Go on Facebook 1 2 3 4 5
6. Use Twitter 1 2 3 4 5
7. Use instant messaging for personal reasons (for example MSN, Skype) 1 2 3 4 5
8. Use email for personal reasons 1 2 3 4 5
  1. 9.

    Overall what (if any) do you see are the biggest distractions to having a laptop IN class for this course? Why?

  2. 10.

    Overall what (if any) do you see are the biggest distractions to having a laptop OUTSIDE class? Why?

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Kay, R., Lauricella, S. Assessing laptop use in higher education: The Laptop Use Scale. J Comput High Educ 28, 18–44 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12528-015-9106-5

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s12528-015-9106-5

Keywords

  • Evaluate
  • Assess
  • Use
  • Scale
  • Higher education
  • University
  • Laptop