It can be discouraging for instructors who, after taking the time to prepare a lesson plan, find their students texting rather than taking notes in class. Educators across all disciplines and state lines are faced with the dilemma of how to respond. Is it a sign of disrespect or simply the burgeoning of a new generational divide?
A closer look at the numbers shows that the issue isn’t limited to a few problem students. A study conducted by Barney McCoy of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln found that of the 777 students surveyed, more than 80% admitted to using their phone for non-academic related reasons during class. Undergraduates were the heaviest users, reaching for their phones an average of 11 times per school day, while graduate students came in at an average of 4 uses. Business and Professional Communication Quarterly Editor Melinda Knight discusses this issue in her editorial entitled “What to Do About Texting?”
Right before the first required oral presentation in this class, I asked everyone once again to turn phones off and give full attention to each speaker. As I was saying this, one student, whom I had previously asked to stop texting on several occasions, continued to text away until I stopped speaking all together. Usually, this kind of dramatic action will help make everyone aware of the problem, yet for the rest of the semester I had only limited success in convincing students that texting during class and especially when others were giving presentations was not professional behavior. Worse yet, I continually had to answer the same questions from students who did not hear what we had previously discussed because of texting. Perhaps the apparent lack of respect for everyone, instructor and students, is what has bothered me the most about this problem.
You can read “What to Do About Texting?” and the March issue of Business and Professional Communication Quarterly free for the next two weeks! Click here to access the editorial and here to access the Table of Contents. Like what you read? Click here to sign up for e-alerts from Business and Professional Communication Quarterly!