New research by academics from Miami University, Illinois State University and Nebraska University has found that sending and receiving messages that are unrelated to class content has a negative impact on students’ learning.
The research study, entitled Mobile Phones in the Classroom: Examining the Effects of Texting, Twitter and Message Content on Student Learning, discovered that when students did not use their mobiles they were able to recall information better.
The academics, Jeffrey Kuznekoff, Stevie Munz and Scott Titsworth, chose 145 US undergraduates at random and asked them to take notes while watching a 12-minute video lecture.
During the lecture the students faced a series of distractions on their mobile phones. Half received and sent messages relevant to the lecture while the other half replied to messages that were completed unrelated. A control group did not use their mobile phones at all.
After the lecture the students took two tests, with results showing that those who either did not use their mobiles or received messages relevant to the lecture performed far better than students who were distracted by irrelevant messages.
“Sending and receiving messages unrelated to class content negatively impacted learning and note-taking, while related messages did not appear to have a significant negative impact,” reported the study.
“Perhaps one of the biggest challenges instructors face in the 21st century college classroom is the struggle of retaining student interest and engagement while students remain connected to the outside world through their mobile devices.
“It is a common occurrence to observe students who are physically present, yet mentally preoccupied by non course-related material on their mobile devices.”