I don’t let students use their cell phones or laptops in class. My main reason has been the distraction it provides for other students, particularly when someone is using their laptop for non-academic purposes (where “non-academic” is a euphemism for sports and nekked wimmin). Turns out there’s data that supports my intuition. The following quotes come from emails sent by two of my faculty colleagues.
In a controlled study (Hembrooke & Gay 2003), students with open laptops remembered less lecture content than those with closed laptops. In another study (Fried 2008), the more students used their laptops, the lower their class performance, the less attention they paid to lectures, the less clear lectures seemed to them, and the less they felt they understood the course material.
Fried, C. B. (2008). In-class laptop use and its effects on student learning. Computers & Education, 50, 906-914.
Hembrooke, H. & Gay, G. (2003). The laptop and the lecture: The effects of multitasking in learning environments. Journal of Computing in Higher Education, 15, 1-19.
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 Â± 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 hes only hurting himself when texting, studies show that others are affected also.
Sydney Fulbright, PhD, “Cell Phones in the Classroom: What’s Your Policy?” Faculty Focus, April 15, 2013