Student texting in class sends mixed messages

Smartphones and their various applications are part of the reason why texting in the classroom is on the rise.

By Amar Kapadia

Professors throughout the nation have felt the heat while competing against cell phones for their students’ attention.

One study by Wilkes University found that approximately nine in 10 students admitted to texting in class, according to

When Rider students were asked about the issue of texting in class, the response was split.

“I don’t really see a problem with that as long as you’re [getting] work done on time,” Donovan Scott, a freshman majoring in human resource management, said.

Senior Andrea Panno added that texting is a part of life.

“Teachers are beginning to realize . . . that teaching at the college level means your classrooms are filled with students who have jobs, internships, four other professors e-mailing them; all the while they are trying to stay connected to their family and social life. With that going on, one particular class is not more important to a student than the other things they have going on,” she said.

Other students, however, take a different view.

“I think it is very, very rude towards the professor and distracting to the fellow students. I think it’s just as bad as talking when the professor is talking,” Marci Risch, a student who works at the College of Continuing Studies, said.

Aaron Hatch, a graduate student, agrees, comparing texting to passing notes.

“It’s disruptive for the class and the teacher, but it also takes the student’s attention away from what’s being taught,” he said.

Most professors are not happy with the idea of texting in class.

“I think it is distracting. I think that is because I’m old school,” communication professor Barry Janes said.

He believes that students text because they think they are good at multitasking.

“But I haven’t seen any evidence to that effect,” he said.

Dr. Sigfredo Hernandez, associate professor of marketing, said texting is bothersome to the other students.

“I think [texting is] better than answering cellphones in class but it is still a distraction because I use team learning in my class,” he said. “It is particularly distracting when students in their teams are working on a task and one of the team members is texting.”

Communication professor Dr. Yun Xia said that texting is “a real common problem in the classroom,” which he found from a survey he conducted over the summer.

Xia revealed that students spend between 10 to 15 minutes of class time texting, which can distract from learning. One of the main reasons they do this, he said, is “to find out what their friends are doing.”

However, there may be a silver lining to text messaging during class: A small fraction of the respondents said they text their peers to enhance learning.

“Once in a while, [students] don’t understand what’s going on in the class. They text message their friends and ask them, ‘What’s going on? What does this term mean?’” Xia said.

He also said that texting their friends can help with group work.

With the wide range of differences in opinions, the debate over texting in the classroom does not seem to be going away any time soon.

As Panno said, “To penalize students for using their phones in class is simply unrealistic and unacceptable because society is now a multitasking community that feeds off of constant and instant communication.”

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