February 5th - Ryan J. Turner

Ryan J. Turner (IST-CMU)

Effects of Wifi Internet Usage on Academic Performance in a University Setting


The Internet is an essential tool but can be disruptive distraction. Using wifi usage and student grade data from the Faculdade de Engeneharia da Universidade do Porto (FEUP) in Portugal, we find a consistent, positive correlation between Internet usage and student performance. This result is robust for several models and and for different metrics. Models controlling for usage specific to major and curricular year, and for separate day and night usage, reveal that certain categories of students tend to use wifi more productively; in particular, Civil Engineering students, daytime users, and students closer to graduation. Further, we develop an instrumental variable approach that may lead to an assertion of causality. Our results are contrary to previous results in higher education, and also for secondary education in Portugal, thus raising further questions about how different implementation strategies and deployment contexts can yield different academic outcomes in the presence of technology such as wifi.


Bio: Ryan Turner is a researcher in the Engineering and Public Policy Department as part of the Carnegie Mellon-Portugal program. He is interested in academic productivity in secondary and higher education, and in the effects of technology on performance in terms of focus and distraction. He holds a degree in Electrical Engineering, Computer Science, and Computer Engineering from the University of Virginia (B.S. 2010).


Instituto Superior Técnico