There’s no question that in the era of the smartphone, the Internet has become a go-to place to find out something in a hurry, but does “outsourcing your memory” actually help students learn new concepts, or does it just make people think they are smarter than they are?
A little of both, find researchers at the annual Association for Psychological Science conference here. In a symposium on the effects of students’ online searches, several studies looked at how using the Internet affects both the way we remember and the way we think about what we learn.
Analyzing about 900 college students’ search habits, Adrian F. Ward of the University of Colorado, Boulder, found 59 percent looked for a “quick answer,” 26 percent sought “in-depth information” on a topic, and another 15 percent were simply browsing. Even when students knew the answer to a question, they were likely to check the Internet before answering. “There’s a sense that it’s in there somewhere but it’s easier to pull out your phone than think about it,” Ward said.
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