The CITE, a blog published by the National Association of College Stores, takes a look at the intersection of education and technology, highlighting issues that range from course materials to learning delivery to the student experience. Comments, discussion, feedback, and ideas are welcome.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Surprise! Devices Are a Distraction

One criticism leveled at bring-your-own-device initiatives is the distraction they’re assumed to cause in the classroom. A professor from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, conducted a study showing the assumption is probably right.

The survey found more than 90% of the students admitted using their device in class for nonclass activities. Students said they used their devices for texting (86%), checking the time (79%), checking e-mails (68%), social networking (66%), and web surfing (38%). Eight percent even admitted to using their devices in class to play games.

“When college students multitask with digital devices in classrooms, research indicates it may hamper their ability to pay attention,” Barney McCoy, associate professor of broadcasting at UN-L,  wrote in his report. “This behavior, research suggests, has become more habitual, automatic, and distracting.”

However, the students also said they saw staying connected (70%), avoiding boredom (55%), and doing related classwork (49%) as an advantage to using their devices during class.

“I don’t think students necessarily think it’s problematic,” McCoy said in an article for eCampus News. “They think it’s part of their lives. It’s become automatic behavior on the part of so many people—they do it without even thinking about it.”

Just 9% of the students favored a ban on having their devices in the classroom and 54% said it was reasonable for the instructor to have a policy for their use. They just don’t want it strictly enforced: 65% said they felt a warning was sufficient for a first offense.

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