Flashcard question: texting/social networking in class (fall semester 2013)

Astronomy 210, Physics 205A, fall semester 2013
Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo, CA

At the start of the semester, after a class think-pair-share activity using flashcards to answer syllabus quiz questions, students in introductory astronomy and college physics courses at Cuesta College were asked a subjective question regarding their attitudes towards texting and social networking smartphone use in class.

Texting/social networking is acceptable behavior in class.
(A) Strongly disagree.
(B) Disagree.
(C) Neutral.
(D) Agree.
(E) Strongly agree.

Student responses
Astronomy 210
Section 70158
(A) : 6 students
(B) : 10 students
(C) : 20 students
(D) : 1 student
(E) : 0 students

Astronomy 210
Section 70160
(A) : 3 students
(B) : 6 students
(C) : 19 students
(D) : 3 students
(E) : 0 students

Physics 205A
Sections 70854, 70855, 73320
(A) : 20 students
(B) : 13 students
(C) : 25 students
(D) : 1 student
(E) : 0 students

Students were asked to explain their responses during the following whole-class discussion. Most responses were along the lines of texting/social networking being "distracting," "inappropriate," and "disrespectful," but some students remarked that emergency contact purposes (or similar circumstances) or looking up information pertinent to lecture might be considered acceptable uses of smartphones. While indiscriminate use of smartphones during instruction would be detrimental to learning, the social norm seems to be that they would be tolerated as long as smartphone use was not disruptive to other students.

These responses and student opinions were then used to set the policy, via consensus, regarding texting and social networking during class time.

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