I’ve never had a “no use” cell phone policy in my class. I have students use them in class sometimes; The Canvas app is great for submitting in-class work or even for taking quizzes. The research on “distracted learning,” however, is giving me pause. In fact, I’m wondering about other things I’m doing that may be a disservice to my students, like providing slides online, which I believe has caused the art of note-taking to go by the wayside.
But for now, let’s take a deep dive into multitasking. Not gonna lie, I’m all about efficiency. “Hello, I’m Kara and I’m a multitasker.” I grew up with a “non-idle hands” policy that seems to have followed me right into adulthood, so I understand students who also try to do two or three things at once, even during class. But the research doesn’t back me up on my belief that doing two things is better than one. In fact, it states just the opposite; We do tasks slower concurrently than when done sequentially.
Of the 478 undergraduate students surveyed in a recent study published in the Canadian Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 49% said that they recognized that multitasking during class was distracting. Even so, students chose to be off-task when the lecture or material was “boring.” (OK, that gives me something to think about).
In a study published earlier this year, Glass and Kang found a causal link between cell phone and laptop use during class and lower exam scores. As the instructors who were surveyed in this study noted, they planned to continue to inform their students about the dangers of divided attention during class. Certainly, if we’re not going to ban technology all together, teaching students about its effective use in the learning environment is important.
Do you have any thoughts on this issue? If so, please comment below!