Laptop or Bust: How Lack of Technology Affects Student Achievement

Bianca C. Reisdorf, Whisnu Triwibowo, Aleksandr Yankelevich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Research shows that digital divides and inequalities are related to lower socioeconomic status and detrimental to social and economic capital acquisition. Other studies show that use of information and communication technologies in the classroom can lead to worse academic performance. Nevertheless, many universities require that students own or buy a laptop, and many offer financial aid for students who cannot afford to buy one. As such, laptop ownership may be crucially tied to academic performance. Based on a large data set of incoming freshmen at a large public university in the United States, this article shows that not owning a laptop is negatively associated with overall college performance, even when controlling for socioeconomic background. Whereas we find that laptop ownership is not necessarily responsible for the higher performance of individuals in our broader sample, it could be beneficial to nonowners, which has implications for university policies seeking to provide institution-wide access to laptops and for universities’ broader interactions with students who do not own a laptop.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)927-949
Number of pages23
JournalAmerican Behavioral Scientist
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2020


  • academic performance
  • digital divide
  • digital inequalities
  • higher education
  • laptops


Dive into the research topics of 'Laptop or Bust: How Lack of Technology Affects Student Achievement'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this