This came to my attention this morning and I thought I would be of interest to many faculty. File it under “Our syllabus gets longer and longer….” from Dr. Fritz Detwiler

Research has indicated that student performance is significantly correlated with cell phone use. A study by Duncan, Hoekstra, and Wilcox (2012) demonstrated that students who reported regular cell phone use in class showed an average negative grade difference of 0.36 ± 0.08 on a four-point scale. Students also underestimated the number of times they accessed their phones while in class. While students reported an average access rate of three times per class period, observation data showed the rate was closer to seven times per period. An interesting finding is that other students are distracted when students text in class (Tindell and Bohlander, 2012). So while a student may claim he’s only hurting himself when texting, studies show that others are affected also.

So what is the answer to this new form of passing notes in class? Faculty must assess their own feelings about their students using cell phones in the classroom. This will include the type of class one is leading.

Other faculty may incorporate the use of the cell phone in the course planning. The ability to quickly access the web for discussion information can be beneficial for the students. It also can encourage participation when paired with software like Poll Everywhere.

Once the instructor has a clear understanding of the potential positive or negative impact of allowing cell phone use, he or she must clearly state policies in the syllabus. If the faculty member allows phone use, he or she then must clearly state how the cell phone can be used. If no cell phone use is allowed, this too must be clearly stated and students need to know the repercussions for violating the policy.

Sydney Fulbright, PhD, “Cell Phones in the Classroom:  What’s Your Policy?” Faculty Focus, April 15, 2013

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