Pearson Mobile Device Study Reveals College Students Reliant on Laptops Even with Rise in Tablet Ownership

NEW YORK, NY – Five years after the iPad launch, laptops remain the primary device that college students use for learning. Still, student expectations for tablets remain very high, and many see them as a growing part of the college experience.

According to a new Harris Poll conducted on behalf of Pearson, seven in 10 students agree that tablets help learners study more efficiently, and that tablets will effectively replace textbooks as we know them within five years. The study found that 52 percent of college students own tablets, up from 45 percent a year ago. Ownership of smartphones has stabilized at 85 percent and laptops at 88 percent.

Although most college students believe that tablets are efficient and effective for studying, laptops are still the most commonly used device for learning. Among college students aged 18 and 19 (generally freshmen and sophomores), only one in 12 (eight percent) use a tablet every day for school work, while two out of three (66 percent) use a laptop daily for their school work. About one in four college students aged 25 and older use tablets every day for school work (27 percent).

“College students continue to show enthusiasm for learning digitally,” said Seth Reichlin, Pearson’s senior vice president of market research for higher education. “With more than 80 percent of elementary students reporting that they are using tablets regularly for learning, what’s clear from our research is that tablets have turned out to be more popular among younger learners.”

Other findings from the 2015 Student Mobile Device Survey include:

  • Device preferences: Most college students say they learn best on laptops (54 percent). Almost half (48 percent) say they enjoy laptops most of all mobile devices.
  • Attitudes about technology: One in three college students (36 percent) considers himself or herself an “early adopter” when it comes to electronic devices and technology. Surprisingly, older students, aged 25 and up, are the most likely to say they are early adopters (51 percent).
  • Inequality: Eight percent of Black students lack wi-fi at home, vs. just two percent of White students.
  • Device usage by age: College students aged 18 and 19 are the most likely to use laptops daily for school work, while students aged 25 and up are most likely to use tablets daily.

This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Poll on behalf of Pearson between February 7, 2015 and March 11, 2015. Qualified college students were U.S. residents between the ages of 18 and 30 who were enrolled in either a 2-year college, 4-year college or university, or graduate school. The survey results from 1,211 students were weighted to be representative of the college student population in the U.S. This survey was part of a larger study on students in the U.S. that also included 4th through 12th graders.

The full report is available at 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

Media Contact: Laura Howe, laura.howe(at)

About Harris Poll
Over the last 5 decades, Harris Polls have become media staples. With comprehensive experience and precise technique in public opinion polling, along with a proven track record of uncovering consumers’ motivations and behaviors, Harris Poll has gained strong brand recognition around the world. Contact ConsumerInsightsNAInfo(at) for more information.