Cell Phones in Class: A Student Survey

Cell phones in the classroom—it’s a topic that generates much consternation among faculty. Are policies that prohibit their use enforceable? Are students texting in class? If so, how many? If a student is texting, does that distract other students? Are students using their phones to cheat? Are there any ways cell phones can be used to promote learning? The questions are many and the answers are still a long way from definitive.

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Most faculty have opinions about how much cell phone use is occurring in their classrooms, but those individual answers need a larger context and independent verification. A recent survey of 269 college students representing 21 majors from 36 different courses, and equally distributed between first-year students, sophomores, juniors, and seniors standing, offers this kind of benchmarking data. This student cohort answered 26 questions that inquired as to their use of cell phones as well as their observations regarding the cell phone use of their peers.

Virtually all the students (99 percent) reported that they had cell phones, and 97 percent said that they used their phones for text messaging. Another significant majority (95 percent) said they brought their phones to class every day, and 91 percent reported that they set their phones to vibrate. Only 9 percent said that they turned their phones off. As for their use of cell phones, 97 percent said they send or received text messages while waiting for class to begin, and 92 percent admitted that they had sent or received a text message during class. Thirty percent reported that they send and receive messages every day in class. Virtually all these students (97 percent) indicated that they had seen texting being done by other students in the classroom. <Read more.>

Via Maryellen Weimer, Teaching and Learning.