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Teachers react to cellphone use in class

Photo Illustration by Andrew Holleran / Lantern reporter

Cellphone use can be a part of everyday life for Ohio State students. Whether students are talking, texting, emailing, tweeting, taking pictures, posting to Facebook, surfing the Internet or playing Angry Birds, phone use doesn’t always stop once they start class.

Asli Arikan, assistant professor in management and human resources, said although she doesn’t have a specific policy against using cellphones in class, she does expect students to make the right decisions regarding when to use them.

“I make general comments as to the fact that it is distracting and will hamper in-class learning and participation,” Arikan said. “Ultimately, it is the student’s responsibility (to) exercise sound judgment.”

Larry Tomassini, professor of accounting and management information systems, said he also doesn’t have a specific policy for classroom cellphone use but is bothered by cellphone use in class when it disturbs others.

However, some professors prohibit all cellphone use during their classes, and many make that clear on Day 1.

Pasha Lyvers-Peffer, an associate professor of animal science, outlined her cellphone policy in the class syllabus.

“Technology Devices: Interruptions are distractive to learning. All cellphones and related devices must be turned OFF or placed in Etiquette Mode and stored out of sight during (the) class period. Text messaging during class is unacceptable. Students interested in using a tablet or similar device for note taking must seek permission of the instructor prior to doing so,” her syllabus reads.

Lyvers-Peffer said she uses this policy because students using cellphones during class are distracting to herself and to others.
“When I dedicate time to teach, I expect students to dedicate time to listening. I do not take attendance and it is my idea that if an individual is in class, they should be dedicating their attention to that class,” Lyvers-Peffer said.

Despite warnings from professors like Lyvers-Peffer, many students still use cellphones in classes. A study from the University of New Hampshire said about half of all students hide cellphone use while in class. The study also concluded that students who use their phones during class decreases concentration and the amount of information received.

Emily Webster, a first-year in history and evolution and ecology, said the type of class determines whether she uses her cellphone.

“I do think for the higher participation classes and classes with a small number of students, professors frown upon cellphone use. But for big lectures, the professors don’t really care if students use their phones, and I know people do,” Webster said.

Webster said her professors have not outlined any cellphone policies in her classes but that she typically doesn’t use her cellphone unless it’s something important.

“It’s a lot easier to concentrate on what the professor is talking about when you’re not worrying about what your friend texted you,” Webster said.

Some students with classes that outline specific cellphone rules mandated by professors tend to follow them.

Andrew Karmele, a second-year in civil engineering, said he has one class where the professor does not allow cellphone use and the policy is clearly outlined in the syllabus.
“I follow that rule. I don’t usually use my cellphone in class anyways, so I am already complying,” Karmele said.

Andrew Huntsman, a first-year in chemistry, said he doesn’t use his cellphone during class not because of professors’ policies, but because it takes away from his learning.

“I have one English class that doesn’t allow cellphone use,” Huntsman said. “I don’t usually use my phone during any of my classes. If I am here paying for school, if I am not paying attention when I am on my phone, it just doesn’t make sense to me.”

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