Centre for Vocational Education Research LSE RSS Email Facebook Twitter


CEP discussion paper
Ill communication: technology, distraction and student performance
Louis-Philippe Beland and Richard Murphy
May 2015
Paper No' CEPDP1350:
Full Paper (pdf)

JEL Classification: I21; I28; O33; J24

Tags: mobile phones; technology; student performance; productivity

This paper investigates the impact of schools banning mobile phones on student test scores. By surveying schools in four English cities regarding their mobile phone policies and combining it with administrative data, we find that student performance in high stakes exams significantly increases post ban. We use a difference in differences (DID) strategy, exploiting variations in schools’ autonomous decisions to ban these devices, conditioning on a range of student characteristics and prior achievement. Our results indicate that these increases in performance are driven by the lowest-achieving students. This suggests that restricting mobile phone use can be a low-cost policy to reduce educational inequalities.