Allowing Smartphones in Class Hurts Student Grades

Students in class with smartphones.

A recent study, described at Big Think, reveals that students who multi-task with smartphones in class are less able to retain information they’ll need for future exams. From the article. “This finding demonstrates for the first time that the main effect of divided attention in the classroom is not an immediate effect of selection or switching on comprehension but a long-term effect of divided attention on retention,” the researchers wrote.

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2 thoughts on “Allowing Smartphones in Class Hurts Student Grades

  • You are literally not Living and experiencing Life if you are on a Phone or Pad – thousands and thousands of hours wasted that you can never get back – for what? How about the millions of people that act like group morons pointing cell phones at concert stages?? They are absolutely NOT in the moment and will never remember the performance because their attention is on the shooting and not the show. Playing back phone video later is nothing like a real concert but at least when I was a kid and you later saw a bootleg video of the gig at least you remember everything about it because you were 100% focused on the show.

  • I solved this problem readily in the college classes I teach.

    On day 1, I offer them “the deal.” The deal is that if every single person goes the entire semester without using a phone or laptop in class, then at the end of the term, each student can choose from a menu of options that raises the score on one of their assignments. It doesn’t significantly impact the class gpa, so it’s not like I’m handing an “A” to everyone.

    The other part of the deal, though, is that if even one person, even once, violates this agreement (i.e., uses their phone, etc.), then the deal is off for everyone in the class, right then and there.

    They police each other far better than I can police all of them individually. This approach has been successful for over 3 years now. Not once has anyone dared to mess this up. Works like a charm.

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