In a generation of technology and information, students have the ability to engage in constant communication with others, but this practice may actually harm their education, according to a recent poll.
The informal survey conducted around the Fresno State campus revealed some prevalent issues regarding students’ usage of text messaging. It looked at the frequency of text messaging by students and their attitudes about its effects in the classroom.
“This is a multi-tasking generation and many people think they’re not being distracted”? said Dr. Tamyra Pierce, a Fresno State associate professor of mass communication and journalism.
The survey, which was distributed to Fresno State students of ranging class levels, looked at their regular use of text messaging. In particular, it focused on the frequency of text messaging while in class.
Of those polled, 84 percent of students reported that they regularly use their cell phones for sending and receiving text messages. Of those who text, 70 percent admitted to text messaging while in class.
“I’m not at all surprised by this,” Pierce said. “I see it all the time.”
Pierce, who has conducted formal surveys of her own regarding the use of text messaging and MySpace among high school students, said 47 to 49 percent of students text message and 10 percent admitted to text messaging during an exam.
The real question: Is this frequent text messaging harmful to students’ educations? The informal campus poll revealed that 64 percent of students believe that text messaging in class draws their attention away from lectures.
“Several semesters ago I had to go to a ‘no cell phones in sight’ policy because it just got out of control,â€? Pierce said. “Students think they can do it all and they won’t be distracted, but I think they are.â€?
Many students, however, say that their studies are not affected by their texting habits.
Fresno State junior Amy Munson admits to texting on a daily basis.
“I actually have a Sidekick and a cell phone for texting and I’m on them all the time,” said Munson, a communication major.
“Honestly, I text to stay awake in class,â€? Munson said. “As long as I’m constantly doing something, then I won’t completely zone out on what the teacher’s saying. It almost helps me listen because at least I’m getting bits and pieces.”
Fresno State senior Martin Campanella believes the prevalence of text messaging also depends on the type of classes students are in.
“I’m an engineering major,” Campanella said. “It’s mostly guys in my classes, so you don’t see it as much. I think girls text a lot more. It is like they can’t wait to talk about all this stuff.”
Kevin Tague, a third-year health science major, said he rarely text messages but it still affects his concentration.
“You hear it all the time,” Tague said. “Even when phones are on vibrate it gets annoying.”
But this scattered concentration and distraction is what Pierce warns students about.
“You get so engrossed in it and sure you may only miss this much, but that small amount may be what’s on the exam,â€? Pierce said.
While Pierce has enacted a no cell phone policy in her class, many teachers have yet to go that far. Munson said some teachers do get more of her attention than others.
“If someone’s just standing there for an hour talking, guaranteed half the class isn’t going to hear a thing,” Munson said. “I definitely get more involved when there’s interaction in group work and then I won’t text.”