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Wednesday, October 14, 2015

How Concerned Should We Be About Cell Phones in Class? by Maryellen Weimer, PhD

Dr. Maryellen Weimer, professor emerita at Penn State Berks reports, "As faculty, it seems we are very concerned about cell phones in the classroom." 

Photo: The Teaching Professor Blog

Articles about the problem are popping up everywhere in the pedagogical literature, and they often are the “most-read” and “most-commented” articles listed on various websites. Is student use of electronic devices that pressing of a pedagogical problem? I’ve been wondering if our focus on it isn’t becoming excessive.
No question, it’s a vexing problem. Research makes it abundantly clear that students can’t multitask, despite their beliefs to the contrary. Even a casual observation of them texting in class while they’re supposed to be listening and taking notes makes it clear that it’s the listening and note-taking that are getting short shrift. The question is, to what extent is this a problem for teachers and students? 

The Teaching Professor Blog

Does the use of the devices make it harder for other students to focus on learning tasks? More than 60% of a diversified student cohort said it does, according to a recent survey. However, 80% of that cohort reported using their cell phones at least once a period, with 75% saying that doing so was either acceptable or sometimes acceptable. So apparently from the student perspective, we’re not talking about a disruption they consider serious. Perhaps that’s because 92% of those in this survey didn’t believe that using their phones had negative effects.

Does the use of devices disrupt the teacher? It can. We also care that students aren’t engaging with the material when they’re on their phones, and we have leadership responsibility for the classroom environment. Both of those are justified concerns, but does some of our agitation grow out of personal offense? Students aren’t listening to us, and that’s rude. Should we be taking this personally? People everywhere are paying more attention to their devices than to those around them.

Source: Faculty Focus

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