The texting rules should come with consequences, of course. Tindell said her repercussions for phone activity during exams has grabbed students’ attention.
“If I hear [a cell phone] or see it, it’s an automatic zero,” she said, adding that she hasn’t had to invoke the text-time rule yet.
“I think students really appreciate [rules prohibiting texting in class], because people are bothered by it,” Tindell said. “I think students know that texting in class isn’t best thing for them.”
Laying down the text-messaging law even could hinder college students’ neurotic need to answer texts within seconds of receiving them.
“Students really do feel this compulsion to respond to the text message right away, no matter where they are,” she said. “But students are a lot less likely to text if they know there’s a policy against it.”
Instructors and professors said texting in class, once rare in lecture halls, has reached epidemic levels in recent years.
“You reach a point regarding this issue where, as an educator, you move from distracted to disheartened to exasperated to angered,” said LisaMarie Luccioni, a communications professor at the University of Cincinnati, who added that she makes sure her cell phone is turned off during lectures and student advising sessions. “I would not connect with someone via text while disconnecting from my immediate environment.”
Tindell and Bohlander included suggestions for curbing texting in class within their research summary.
The Wilkes researchers suggest doing away with desks that hide students’ text-messaging hands and disallowing students to sit behind columns that could hide them from an instructors’ view.
Docking students’ class participation grades is another anti-texting strategy included in the Wilkes research.
Luccioni from the University of Cincinnati said she includes texting rules in bold type on the front of each class syllabus. She said educators should keep an eye on students who crowd the back of a classroom or lecture hall, watching for telltale signs of sending and receiving texts.
“It’s still pretty noticeable,” Luccioni said. “You observe either downcast eyes accompanied by hand and arm movement, or even if eyes are upon you, arm and hand movement is still detectable.”
Text messaging might be the bane on many in higher education, but one IT decision maker at Georgia State University encourages use of texting in class.