New Study Reveals U.S. Students Believe Tablets Are Game Changers in Learning and Student Engagement

Pearson Survey Shows Mobile Device Use and Ownership Continues to Grow Among Elementary, Middle and High School Students

NEW YORK – Sept. 8, 2014– Elementary, middle and high school students overwhelmingly believe that tablets will change the way they learn in the future (90 percent) and make learning more fun (89 percent), according to a new study conducted by Harris Poll and released today by Pearson.

The survey, conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of Pearson, asked 2,252 students how they currently use mobile technology for learning, and how they would like to use it in the future. Survey respondents included 501 elementary school (4th-5th grade) students, 750 middle school (6th-8th grade) students, and 1001 high school (9th – 12th grade) students.  

The survey found that while mobile device use and ownership is growing among students of all ages, universal access to high speed Internet and 1:1 computing is still a challenge for schools around the country. Only 62 percent of students have wireless access to the Internet at school, versus 93 percent of students who have wireless access at home. Only one in six students (16 percent) attends a school that provides every student with a laptop or tablet.

“This year’s study findings show a high level of optimism, engagement and confidence with mobile devices among U.S. students,” said Douglas Kubach, president, Pearson’s School group. “While we are seeing consistent growth of mobile device use among students for school work, a gap still exists between home and school access, preventing many schools from taking full advantage of the digital learning technologies available today that can be instrumental in improving educational experiences for students.”

Key findings of the survey are listed below. The full report is available at

Impact of Tablets in the Classroom

According to the survey, most students are optimistic regarding the positive impact that tablets will have on the classroom, particularly when it comes to improving student engagement. Among notable findings:

  • 81 percent of students agree that using tablets in the classroom lets them learn in a way that’s best for them.
  • 79 percent of students agree that tablets help students do better in class.

The survey found that African American and Hispanic students are more likely than White students to feel that using tablets in the classroom enables them to learn in a way that is best for them (88 percent vs. 86 percent vs. 79 percent, respectively) and that tablets help students learn better in class (83 percent vs. 84 percent vs. 77 percent, respectively).

Mobile Device Usage Overall

Mobile device usage is high and growing among elementary, middle and high school students. Older students tend to use smartphones, while younger students use tablets more often. Among notable findings:

  • 66 percent of elementary students and 58 percent of middle school students regularly use a tablet. In 2013, 52 percent of elementary school students and 43 percent of middle school students reported that they regularly used a small or full-size tablet.
  • While 75 percent of high school students regularly use a smartphone, only 42 percent of high school students regularly use a tablet at home or school.

Mobile Device Ownership

Smartphone and laptop ownership increases with grade level, while tablets are most common among elementary students:

  • More than half of students (54 percent) in grades 4-12 already own a smartphone.
  • 51 percent of elementary and 52 percent of middle schools students own a tablet, but only 36 percent of high school students do.

Mobile Device Usage for School Work

Regarding the use of mobile devices for school work, laptops remain the most commonly used across all students surveyed, with high school students using laptops the most. Tablet usage is most common among elementary school students. Other notable findings include:

  • Eight in ten students report using a laptop to do school work during the school year.
  • About half of the students surveyed have used tablets or smartphones to do their school work during the school year (49 percent and 47 percent, respectively).
  • Three in ten students use smartphones or tablets on a weekly basis to do their school work (30 percent and 29 percent, respectively).
  • High school students are far more likely than either elementary or middle school students to use their smartphones every week in order to do school work (43 percent vs. 17 percent vs. 20 percent, respectively).

1:1 in the Classroom

The survey found that while all students want more mobile device use in the classroom, only one in six students (16 percent) attends a school that provides every student with a laptop or tablet. Notable findings include:

  • 71 percent of elementary school students, 67 percent of middle school students and 56 percent of high school students would like to use mobile devices in the classroom more often than they do now.
  • A majority of students across all grade levels (51 percent) feels that it is important for their schools to provide them with a laptop on a 1:1 basis.
  • For students, the most common access to laptops and tablets at school is through either a computer lab (35 percent) or a set of shared, in-class computers (27 percent).
  • Shared, in-class computers are much more common for elementary school students (35 percent) than they are for either middle school (27 percent) or high school students (22 percent).
  • 43 percent of students feel that it is important for their schools to provide them with a tablet 1:1 –- with half of elementary (53 percent) and middle school students (48 percent) feeling this way compared to a third (34 percent) of high school students.

The survey was conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of Pearson between February 13 and March 12, 2014 among 2,252 students nationwide. Pearson will also make the complete tabulations and full methodology, including weighting variables, available upon request.


About Pearson

Pearson is the world’s leading learning company, with 40,000 employees in more than 80 countries working to help people of all ages to make measurable progress in their lives through learning. For more information about Pearson, visit

About Nielsen & The Harris Poll

On February 3, 2014, Nielsen acquired Harris Interactive and The Harris Poll. Nielsen Holdings N.V. (NYSE: NLSN) is a global information and measurement company with leading market positions in marketing and consumer information, television and other media measurement, online intelligence and mobile measurement. Nielsen has a presence in approximately 100 countries, with headquarters in New York, USA and Diemen, the Netherlands. For more information, visit