Home  »  Library and Information Science  »  A SURVEY OF THE USE OF SMARTPHONE BY UNDERGRADUATES



Smartphone devices are potential avenues for reviewing instructional materials, an invaluable resource for immediate feedback and other education purposes. This study investigated a survey of the use of Smartphone by Undergraduates in Faculty of Basic Medical Sciences in College of Medicine, Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma, Edo State, Nigeria. Descriptive survey design was used. From a population of 4304 medical students, a sample of 230 students was drawn using accidental sampling technique. Questionnaire was used as data collection instrument and data collected was analyzed using frequency count, percentage and mean statistics. The study revealed high level of awareness and use of smartphones by medical students for their academic works. Result also shows smartphones has made tremendous impact on their medical education most especially with High Speed Browsing, Saves time and money going to cybercafé/college library, Easy and fast internet access. High risk of radiation when using smartphone, Operational  difficulties, high rate of internet subscription, were identified as the major problems they encountered in using smartphones. The study recommended the need for medical university management to collaborate with IT companies to develop smartphones capable of supporting their seeking of medical and health information which improve students’ academic performance. Furthermore, medical college management should collaborate with network service providers to reduce cost of internet subscription to students that will encourage continues use of smartphone to support their seeking of medical and health information.





1.1  Background of the Study

Globalization has changed our lives and one of the ways in which it is changing our lives, every day, is how we communicate; thanks to advancements in Information and Communication Technologies (ICT). It is an undeniable fact that technology has become an integral part in today’s society.  In today’s world, digital technology changed so rapidly and integrates into our society at such an accelerated rate, it is hard to keep up with it, let alone reflect on the effects it has on our lives. In line with this, Vieitez, Carcia, and Rodriquez, (2001) expresses that, technological revolution in academic organization has not only improved efficiency but also help reduce the problem of boredom. In addition to this, Roberts, and Pirog, (2013) point out that, the advancement of technology has also been a dominant force in effecting students’ academic life and helps facilitate the knowledge-constructed classroom. To this end, Gaskell and Mills (2010) stresses that, it was proven that mobile phone technologies played an important role in education; also mobile phone technologies offered a major chance in enhancing access to learning and enabling many institutions, especially in higher education to develop learner support as well as learning opportunities in ways which would build on modern techniques. Similarly, Raento, Oulasvirta, and Eagle (2009) added that recent developments in mobile technologies have produced a new kind of device: a programmable mobile phone, the smartphone.

Smartphone are arguable another revolutionary invention of our time, besides computer and internet technologies. Smartphone is one of the most ubiquitous, dynamic and sophisticated trends in communication. Smartphone technology is growing by leaps and bounds. The use of mobile computing devices such as smartphones is rapidly increasing in the population. According to Gartner, Inc., a technology research and advisory firm, by 2013 mobile phones will overtake personal computers (PCs) as the most common Web access device worldwide, and by 2015 over 80% of the cellular phones sold in markets will be smartphones (Gartner Newsroom. 2010). Smartphone evolution from the mobile phone influences how users tend to think of these devices, as reflected in the handset design. Beale, (2005) asserts that Smartphones are predominately communication devices, with additional computing power built in. Smartphones are the new generation of mobile phones; they have emerged over the last few years and already have conquered the market.

Interestingly, Smartphone represents the current pinnacle of mobile phone development, coupling phone capabilities with the additional functionalities of a computer. In this convergence between phone and handheld computer, the phone has the dominant genes. A Smartphone is an increasingly more common type of mobile phone, which can be described as a mobile phone with characteristics similar to the ones of a computer. Student can check e-mail, browse the Internet and add personal functionality by downloading applications using smartphone. Smart products are leading this era and functioning as the new buzzword. Unlike a normal mobile device a smartphone has a vast amount of both local storage and memory. Smartphones have operating units like computers. Smartphones act as mobile entertainment units where a user can: watch videos, listen to music, update blogs, (as well as audio and video blogging.). To this end, Alfawareh and Jusoh, (2014) buttress that Smartphone is a mobile phone running a complete operating system in a manner similar to a traditional computer, which offer advanced computing abilities and connectivity options. They provides high quality performance and quick access to data and information management, mobile audio and audio-visual calls, mobile teleconferencing, sending and receiving emails and quick and easy internet access.

Furthermore, Today’s mobile devices are multifunctional devices capable of hosting a broad range of medical apps (applications) for students in the medical and health sciences. In line with this, Mohapatra et al, (2015) assert that mobile  technology  is  one  of  the  latest  strings  of  technological  innovations  that  can  be integrated into medical education. They also agreed that Smartphone use is increasingly integrated in the daily practice of medicine. Similarly,  Yousuf, (2015) added that Smartphone applications are used in the form of efficient medical communication, research, diagnostic  and  reference  tools,  and  even  in  patient  monitoring  and  examination.  Smartphone technologies can be used in having current information about changes made in course scheduling, deadlines and upcoming events and it can also increase interactivity and collaboration through the use of discussion forums and chat rooms.

However, the use of smartphone entails the process of utilizing smartphone technology and its applications for the purpose of answering a need or providing solution to a problem. There are numerous possibilities of using smartphone technology within and out of the lecture room. According to Koh et al. (2014), they opined that medical  apps  were  perceived  by  medical  students  to  help  improve  their  clinical decision  making,  saved  time,  allowed  faster  access  to  national  clinical  practice  guidelines, allowed faster access to common laboratory reference values, helped in making differential diagnoses,  enabled  useful  medical  related  calculations,  allowed  faster  access  to  reliable sources  of  medical  knowledge,  allowed  faster  access  to  reliable  sources  of  clinical  skills, allowed accurate medicine dosages calculation, allowed easier medicine dosages calculation and allowed faster access to evidence-based medical practice. In the same view, Bruce, (2010), opines that. Students can also access course materials so that they can learn at a convenient time and place. They also can access links to relevant websites, videos, further reading and online tutorials (supplementary activities) that extend or support learning. Emails or text messages can also be used to give instantaneous feedback of students‟ assessment. Smartphone is a major information technology device and students feel the urge to adapt to it in order to ‘‘keep up with the time’’. It can be noted that medical students use smartphone as it relate to their academic performance.

Demaray and Elliott (2010) opine that academic performance is a multidimensional construct composed of the skills, attitudes, and behaviors of a learner which contribute to academic success. Academic performance is the demonstration of a student’s level of competence and mastery of a subject. For a medical student to perform well and be competent in the field of study, it is important that the student make use of relevant and pertinent information that will enhance his/her performance; with smartphones, students have access to any kind of information as it relate to the academic performance at any point, place and time. To this end, Taylor and Harper (2001), portray that smartphones and its use have special place and impact in students’ life and their academic performances specially. The Smartphone is doubtless a tool that has the power to make its user master of his or her own sector of the digital world.

Additionally, with the aid of these smartphones, medical students learn faster outside the classroom by having quick  access  to  the  internet  and  easy  retrieval  of  required  medical  and  health  learning resources while they also keep abreast of recent trend and development as it affects their medical academic performance,  learning  and  research  needs.  Smartphones are redefining the way almost everything is done in the medical academic environment and are a ready tool for faster access to  all  medical  knowledge  geared  towards  achieving  the  medical  learning  and research objectives of the students. Smartphone has now become a part of the daily life of medical students for without it they would be lost in this high tech (technology) world.

1.2     Statement of the Problem

Smartphone play  a  very  significant  role  to medical  students in  seeking and gathering information  in order to meet  their  learning and  research  needs. Several relevant medical and health information are available in diverse media which medical students can have access to through their smartphones. It is quite regrettable that despite the numerous advantages of smartphone, most medical students do not know how to use, search or to get the right information in the course of their academic work. Most often, even to synthesize and analyze the information becomes a nightmare to some medical students. These are  some of the major  challenges  the medical students  encountered  in accessing desired information using such mobile devices. The inability of medical students to overcome these problems automatically makes it impossible to explore the potentials of the smartphone. Despite their relative importance in medical education, little is known about use of smartphone on academic performance of medical students. Hence, it is against this backdrop, the researcher wish to investigate, a survey of the use of smartphone by undergraduates in Faculty of Basic Medical Sciences in Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma.

1.3     Objectives of the Study

The major objective is a survey of the use of smartphone by undergraduates in Faculty of Basic Medical Sciences in Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma. The specific objective includes the following; to

  1. Find out  the  level  of  awareness  and  use  of  smartphones by medical students  for their academic wor
  2. Find out the relevance/purpose of smartphones by medical stude
  3. Find out some of the medical resources and services smartphones are used for by medical students for their academic wor
  4. Find out the impact of smartphones on academic performance of medical stude
  5. Find out the major problem encountered by medical students in using smartphones in gathering information for their academic wor

1.4       Research Question

The following research questions were formulated for this study:

  1. What is the level of awareness and use of smartphones by medical students?
  2. What is the relevant/purpose of using smartphone by medical students?
  3. What are the medical resources and services that smartphones are used for by medical students for their academic works?
  4. What are the medical apps commonly downloaded by medical students for their academic works?
  5. Is there any impact of use of smartphone on academic performance of medical students?
  6. What are the major problems encountered by medical students when using smartphone?

1.5       Scope of the study

This study investigated a survey of the use of smartphone by undergraduates in Faculty of Basic Medical Sciences in Ambrose Alli University, Ekpo|ma.

1.6       Significance of the study

It is hoped that the findings of this study will benefit various educational stakeholders. It would be useful to medical students in determining the many opportunities that smart phone provides in their academic lives.

Medical lecturers would be guided on how integrating smartphone technology will create a richer environment for teaching and learning.

The smartphone companies would be more informed and therefore invest in providing smartphones at a reduced price.

Curriculum planners and policy makers would be aware of the numerous possibilities of using smartphone technologies in learning, so as to assist in implementing and designing activities to support the various learning styles.

The findings from this study would also complement other studies and provide appropriate information for content developers and mobile learning developers in designing smartphone applications for medical learning at the university level.

This research would contribute to the body of educational research in that it explores students’ academic performance with multiple indicators of learning, which is satisfaction and academic performance. The research may provide literature so as to add more information on innovative use of smartphones to enhance educational experiences of medical university students.

1.7       Limitation of study  

This study involved the following limitations. First, even though, there are other mobile devices that can be used to study academic performance of medical student, this research was only limited to the use of smartphone. Second, this study should have covered the entire medical student in Ambrose Alli University in order to draw a general conclusion on the subject, but it is restricted to students in the faculty of basic medical sciences in Ambrose Alli University due to time and financial constraints. Thirdly, the literature and tools that was used for this research was not easy to come by.

 1.8      Operational definition of terms

The following are the conceptual definitions of key terms used in this study:

Academic performance: the level of students’ academic success in their various subjects.

Mobile application: It is a piece of software that runs on the Internet on a smartphone which can be downloaded from websites. 

Smartphone: A device which has features of both a computer and a mobile phone (cell phone).

Medical student:  A student who enrolled at a medical school, or a person following a course of study leading to qualification as a doctor, medicine, physician, nurse.

Usage: To do something with a device in order to achieve a purpose

University: This is an institution of higher (or tertiary) education and research which grants academic degree in various subject and typically provides undergraduate education and postgraduate education.


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