Once upon a time, students passed handwritten notes to one other during class. Oh, how times have changed! These days they send text messages, and more college students than you may think text during class.
The newly released results of an anonymous study conducted by two Wilkes University professors show that 91% of college students surveyed have text messaged during class.
Wilkes University is a small private college located in Wilkes-Barr, Pennsylvania. Wilkes psychology professors Dr. Deborah Tindell and Dr. Robert Bohlander created a 32-question survey to learn about the in-class text messaging habits of college students.
A total of 269 students representing 21 majors and all class levels responded anonymously to the survey.
Ironically, nearly 25% of respondents reported that other students’ texting has made it difficult to focus in class and 75% of students reported being distracted by a ringing phone.
Why do students spend so much time texting during class?
“If it’s a really boring class, texting is a nice alternative to having to sit there and focus,” said Tom Markley, a senior computer science major at Wilkes, according to the Associated Press.
Wilkes senior Dan Kautz makes plans with his roommates or chats with his girlfriend via text during class. He’s become so good at texting during class that he’s able to send messages without even looking down at the screen, which makes it appear that he’s paying attention to his professor. Kautz even admits to sending text messages to students that are right across the room from him— texts such as "I can’t wait to get out of here.”
Chelsea Uselding, a junior at Wilkes, sends an average of 150 texts a day but does not text during class. Not only does she consider class time a “break” from her phone, she believes that texting during class is wrong. “I’m paying all this money to listen to the person speak, and I figure it’s a waste of my time if I’m not going to be listening,” the Associated Press reports.
Dr. Tindell decided to perform a texting study when she realized how unaware she was of the texting that occurred during her classes. She’s even instituted a “no-texting” policy as a result of her findings and now tells her students that if she even sees a cell phone during a test, the phone’s owner gets an automatic zero.
Dr. Tindell believes that most professors are probably just as clueless as she used to be about students’ sneaky cell phone habits. She’s probably right—many of the students she surveyed said that their professors would be shocked if they knew about their texting habits.
Both Dr. Tindell and Dr. Bohlander recommend that professors have clear, written policies on texting. They should also circulate around the classroom and make frequent eye contact with their students, and avoid focusing too much attention on their lecture notes or PowerPoint presentations.
Melissa Rhone earned her Bachelor of Music in Education from the University of Tampa. She resides in the Tampa Bay area and enjoys writing about college, pop culture, and epilepsy awareness.
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