University of Vermont

Mobile Computing Usage Survey

Mobile Computing Usage Survey

The introductory Management & Information Systems course has been conducting a mobile computing usage survey every Semester for the last 3 years (since the Tablet PC requirement was implemented -2004-2007).  These questionnaires surveyed our 2004, 2005, 2006 Introductory Business Course Students across 5-7 sections of the course each year.  It was conducted anonymously with no incentives.  The survey respondents included Tablet PC owners & non-Tablet PC owners.  Each year about 70% of the students completed the survey.

A similar computer usage survey was conducted of our juniors and seniors in the required J/S core course on Management Information Systems in the Fall of 2006.  This resulted in about 91 surveyed students who also had their in class activity monitored using activity monitor software.  Of these 91 students, 35 were Tablet PC owners.  The other 56 students were seniors with a Dell D600 or D800 or they were students who did not purchase the recommended machine through the school for whatever reason. 

Preliminary results indicate a positive correlation between the amount students use their Tablet PC’s during class time with overall grade performance.  This supports our hypothesis that the natural interface of the Tablet PC Pen/Stylus facilitates more focus on the concepts presented with greater capacities to share, reproduce and catalog class notes.   Due to the limitations of the Activity Monitor Software and student attendance, it is not possible to have an entirely complete picture of student usage of their PC’s in class but the results we do have supports our hypothesis that capturing notes electronically increases likelihood of success in classes introducing many diagrammatic concepts.

We’ve also found that among our students in the introductory Management & Information Technology course, the perceived reliability, overall satisfaction and overall value of the recommended Tablet PC computing device are equal to the opinions of the non-Tablet PC owners which further supports our opinion that convertible Tablet PC’s, especially ones with similar dimensions to a standard notebook, sacrifice nothing in the way of form, function or features which supports our current plan of altering our computing requirement to be a Pen-Enabled computing device for next year.

One other noticeable result of the Computing Usage Survey to date would be the difference in opinion between first year students and Junior/Senior students on the question of whether or not we should require a Tablet PC for all students entering our program.  Only 36% of non-Tablet PC owning first year students thought we should require a Tablet PC.  When we asked the same question of our juniors last Fall, 3 years after the Tablet PC became the required machine, that number jumped to 67%.  Of all the dimensions of this question, this is the only demographic that changed significantly which tells us that students who didn’t buy a Tablet PC 3 or 4 years ago have seen the value of these devices (and the value of purchasing through our program) and have changed their opinion of the usefulness of the requirement.

Lastly, it is worth noting that Tablet PC Owners were 10-20% more likely to use their Tablet PC to take notes in class than non-tablet owners.  This supports the notion that Tablet PC’s are a more natural solution enabling improved mobility with information access.  The fact that students with Tablet PCs are more likely to use them is a positive effect we hope to continue to see and we hope to further be able to measure whether the more natural, mobile interfaces of the Tablet PC improves retention and comprehension in our continuation of this study. 

Last modified April 16 2007 03:52 PM

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