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Teacher Offers Participation Points for Students Who Forfeit Cell Phones in Class

Teacher Offers Participation Points for Students Who Forfeit Cell Phones in Class

One University of Colorado professor has told NPR that he has the solution to getting students to stop texting in class.

Doug Duncan teaches astronomy at UC Boulder, but he has also researched and published a report on texting in the classroom.

In the paper he co-authored, 75 percent of his students reported texting in-class. Duncan then linked that in-class texting to “an average drop of half a letter grade in the course,” the article said.

In order to help his students pay attention and get better grades, Duncan came up with a solution that he says is a sure way to reduce cell phone usage in the classroom.

Duncan experimented with offering a participation point for students turning off their phones and leaving them on his desk for the extent of the class. Students agreed, and Duncan reported having an “exceptionally engaged class.”

"Three class meetings later, he wrote, the no-cell phone rule is still going strong,” NPR said.

"I asked two students on the way out why they voted to put their phones on the desk. They said, 'We know we aren't supposed to use them, and this gives us a reward for doing that,’” Duncan said, according to the article.

To play devil’s advocate, NPR interviewed a research psychologist who studies smartphone use among college students. Larry Rosen told NPR that incentivizing students for not using their phones might not work because typically students who are heavy smartphone users begin to anxious and stressed after 10-15 minutes of banned use. 

"Rosen's prescription, instead, is to give in to the distraction, but at measured intervals.”

Regardless, numerous studies have found that reduced interaction with mobile phones in the classroom help increase students’ grades.

In May, two researchers found that banning mobile phones increased student test scores by 6.4 percent, which was particularly significant for the class’ lowest achievers.

Read the full story here.

Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor


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