Student: Phones are OK in class. Teacher: no way

Morgan Magnarella | PNN Contributor

Savannah Mangum and Zachary Perkinson are on opposite sides of cell phone use in class.

Mangum, a junior at ECU, always uses her phone while in class. “I text, check Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter. It’s definitely a distraction from what’s going on in class,” she said.

Perkinson, a teaching instructor in the English department, gets annoyed at the distraction of cell phones in class so he started a no-phone policy.

Some students think it is unfair to have a no-phone policy since they are paying tuition. “At our age we are responsible for our education, and if you think you can be on your phone and still pay attention it should be fine,” said Mangum.

She also argues that there are reasons to need a phone in class. “There are times when I need to communicate with my mom or if there is an emergency going on,” she said. “I should be allowed to have my phone in case something happens while I am in class.”

Perkinson doesn’t buy that. “Phones are distracting from the class environment and in order to be successful, students need to be engaged in class,” he said.

A no-phone policy seems to make a difference in how well students focus in class.

“The policy makes students pay more attention,” he said, adding, “I’ve had colleagues tell me they couldn’t get their students to pay attention because they were on their phones.”

Keeping students off their phones actually helps them.

A study published in 2013 in the academic journal Communication Education says that students who stayed off their phones “wrote down 62% more information in their notes, took more detailed notes, were able to recall more detailed information from the lecture.” They also got better grades compared to students who were using their phones.

Magnarella produced this story for her fall 2017 Media Writing & Reporting class.