One of my personal issues with large group instruction is that I always find my self distracted from using technology. Have you ever sat in the back of a large lecture hall and used your phone for the majority of class? How about having a teacher that restricts technology use as a whole? Within the past several years there has been an extraordinary amount of research on the effects of using cell phones in schools.
Studies have shown the schools with smartphone bans had student receive higher test scores. According to the study mentioned in this article, researchers found that amongst thousands of 16yr olds, schools that banned cellphones saw a 6% increase in their test scores. Even more impressive was that students that had been struggling, and the ban had been put into place during that time, their grades on exams improved up to 14%!
Cellphones however are not just distracting those in high school. According to a study done by Dr. Chris Bjornsen, his results showed that for every time a college student checked his phone in his class, their test scores out of 100 on average would decrease by six tenths of a point. From his study he was also able to correlate social media usage in class to a student’s GPA. His findings suggest that students with a 3.0 or higher checked social media an average of 2.99 times a class, compared to students whose GPA below 2.0 checked sites such as Twitter and Facebook approximately 3.8 times a class.
With all of this data supporting the the hypothesis that cellphone usage decreases grades, you may wonder why students still use their phones. According to this article 92% of students in college use their phones to send text messages during their classes. This data was concluded off of a study that surveyed a total of 269 students. All though their sample size compared to the entire college population is small, I’m sure similar results would be found elsewhere.
Although cellphones in classrooms typically have a negative connotation, many teachers use them to engage the class in polls, and perhaps even message boards so students can ask questions without interrupting the class. In my personal experience, this has been very fun and provide a good change of pace to the typical lecture hall class. However, it also allows me to become easily distracted due to the fact that I have my cellphone out and teachers would lack the knowledge if I am using it for the purpose they intended or at my own digression.
At Penn State and other schools across the nation an app called Pocket Points has been fighting the use of cellphones in class. The incentive to using the app includes discounts at local stores and restaurants such as the student book store and Qdoba. The way the app works is that it recognizes where you are using your GPS location. When it realizes you are on campus you can open the app and then you lock your phone and put it away. The longer you phone is locked while the app is open, the more points you accumulate. With the points you earn you then redeem them at the stores downtown for your discounts.
I would be interested in seeing more data and experiments done on not only the usage of cellphones but on other forms of technology such as tablets and laptops in classes and how student’s performances compare. This data could give teachers better insight on how to run their classes and how to get the best work out of their students.