Friday, September 6, 2013
The National Law Journal reports on a recent article by Jeff Sovern (St. John's University School of Law) entitled "Law Student Laptop Use During Class for Non-Class Purposes: Temptation v. Incentives," 51 U. Louisville L. Rev. 483 (2013). The article concludes that first-year students have more incentives to pay attention during class and therefore are less distracted by laptop use than second- and third-year law students.
My own classroom policy seems somehow misguided in light of this conclusion. I don't allow laptops in first-year Civil Procedure, but allow them in upper-class courses. My reasoning is that 1Ls need to be weaned from their slacker college ways, that it is almost impossible for them to multitask Civil Procedure, and that they have no choice in being assigned to my section, so they can't transfer out. After they survive the first year, I treat them like the adult graduate students they are and try (not always successfully) to make the class valuable enough to pay attention to.
By now, most professors have fairly strong views on their laptop-in-class policy, but the article may provide some food for thought.