December 9, 2010
Texting in Class: Survey Findings and Recommendations (Or Why Profs May Want to Start Paying Attention to Students in Class)
Deborah Tindell and Robert Bohlander, Wilkes University psychology professors, surveyed 269 students anonymously about students texting in class. Among their findings:
- 95 percent of students bring their phones to class every day.
- 91 percent have used their phones to text message during class time.
- Almost half of respondents said it was easy to text in class without instructors being aware.
- 99 percent said they should be permitted to retain their cell phones while in class.
- 62 percent said they should be allowed to text in class as long as they don’t disturb their classmates. (About a quarter of the students stated that texting creates a distraction to those sitting nearby.)
- 10 percent said that they have sent or received text messages during exams, and 3 percent admitted to transmitting exam information during a test.
The authors offered the following suggestions based on feedback on their survey:
Have a clear, written policy about cell phone use and enforce it consistently. State that phones must be out of sight and turned off during class. Make penalties clear, such as losing points or dropping a letter grade for unauthorized cell phone use. Penalties can be applied to attendance or participation credit by assuming that if a student is texting in class, they are not “present.”
Classroom design is an important component in curtailing cell phone use. The smaller and more intimate the classroom setting, the more difficult it is to text, students say. Desks that do not permit hidden cell phone use are helpful as well. If the classroom contains columns or other visual obstructions, instructors may want to prevent students from sitting in seats that are obscured from the instructor’s view.
Instructors should circulate around the classroom, and spend some time in the back of the classroom. Teachers should avoid focusing their attention on the blackboard, lecture notes, or on projected images at the front of the room, and instead pay attention to the activities of the students, making frequent eye contact. Survey respondents indicated that it is easier to text in class when the instructor is not paying attention to the students in the class.
Hat tip to Inside Higher Ed. [JH]
Why is is surprising, or even regarded as a problem anymore?
Almost every person in the workforce who cannot check their personal email or Facebook page at work sends and receives text messages at work. Many do both. The classroom is basically the only place left in society where communicative silence is expected, and it is absurd for us to expect it. Undergraduates should only be prevented from texting in class to the extent that such texting would harm them in future jobs.
Law students are already on the internet in class and most have to learn how to learn with so much potential for complete distraction. Working through such potential for distraction and learning how to manage it is a necessary skill now for employees.
Posted by: Anon | Dec 9, 2010 3:48:43 PM