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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.


Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Devices Distract, But Students Don't Care

New research has found that students waste about one-fifth of their class time on their digital devices. The average student uses a device for nonclass purposes 11.43 times each class, up from 10.93 times in 2013, despite the fact they understand such behavior could harm their grades.

The report Digital Distractions in the Classroom PhaseII: Student Classroom Use of Digital Devices for Non-Class Related Purposes also asked students why they look at their devices during class. Nearly 63% said they were doing it to stay connected, but about the same amount said they were checking their phones because they were bored, according to a report from Inside Higher Education.

Students overwhelmingly said they didn’t want their devices banned because they didn’t believe the gadgets were a significant distraction. They also said they should be able to use their gadgets whenever they want. Fewer than 12% admitted that they just couldn’t stop themselves.

“This speaks qualitatively to their feeling that they should be the ones to decide when and how to use their digital devices,” said Bernard R. McCoy, associate professor of journalism at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, and author of the report. “It’s a part of what’s now factored into the classroom, and it’s a reality we all have to think about.”

McCoy surveyed 675 students at four-year institutions in 26 states. Nearly 90% of them said they understood that not paying attention was a disadvantage of using digital devices in the classroom, while 80% knew that the distraction could lead them to miss an instruction.

However, the students also assumed also they could handle their devices, with 58% saying it was just a “little” distraction. Only 39% admitted checking their device distracted others and 42% added that it was only a “little distraction” if it did bother other students.

“To me it’s fascinating, interesting, and a little scary all at once,” McCoy said. “If you take a look at the habits of society in general, technology is more available to us than ever before. Then you think about millennials. They are true digital natives. They’ve only known the Internet and the technologies associated with it.”

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