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Effects of Cell Phones on Student Lecture Note Taking and Test Taking Performance

Tarantino, Joseph

Cell phone ownership among student populations is approaching ubiquity and many cell phone owners interact with their devices frequently throughout the day. Since cell phones often hold the power to connect and entertain their owners at any given moment, it is possible that students' increased proximity to cell phones during a classroom lecture may lead to increased distraction from academic tasks. This study investigated whether the mere presence of a cell phone, self-reported general frequency of cell phone use, and anxiety related to being separated from one’s cell phone were related to classroom lecture outcomes. Undergraduate participants (N=72) unknowingly signed up for one of three groups: phone-on-desk, phone-under-desk, or phone-at-front-of-room. In each condition, participants were asked to take notes during a video lecture; their protocols were subsequently scored for lecture note quantity, lecture note quality, and performance on a lecture content quiz. After controlling for self-reported general cell phone use frequency and cell phone separation anxiety, results indicated participants who had their phones on their desks during the lecture wrote more complete ideas in their notes than participants who had their phones under their desks or at the front of the room. Additional analyses indicated the phone-on-desk group wrote significantly more propositions and complete ideas in their notes than the other two groups. These outcomes fall in the direction opposite to the stated hypothesis. Future investigations should consider students’ habituation to having their cell phones present and the possibility that the absence of one’s cell phone could be distracting enough to suppress academic performance.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
School Psychology
Thesis Advisors
Peverly, Stephen T.
Degree
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
October 15, 2019