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GT Prof: Students Learn Better Via iPod Versus Lecture

A Georgia Tech professor has been running an informal experiment to test whether students who listen before class to lectures via their laptops or personal digital assistants perform better on tests.

Jim Foley, a professor of computer science at Georgia Tech, decided to pursue the question last year by testing two different learning modes in an advanced computer science class. One section was taught with in class lectures; in the other, students viewed lectures before class on their iPods or laptops. Lecture content, homework, and exams were the same for both groups. Foley is repeating the experiment this semester.

Foley found that students using iPods or laptops scored grades about 10 percent better than the in class lecture section. Foley says he thinks that’s because there is more time for meaningful discussion in the classroom once the lecture out of the way.

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About the Author

Paul McCloskey is contributing editor of Syllabus.

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