As cell phones evolve and become more accessible in daily life, scholars and educators are forced to evaluate the effects of the presence of cell phones in college classes and adapt to education in a cellular age.
Studies revealed that 96 percent of students own a cell phone and nearly 70 percent of those phones have Internet capabilities. With the advent of smart phones and cell phone applications, students are more connected to the world and are bringing that connection into classrooms.
Suzanne Kurth, an associate professor of sociology at UT, studies the ways that electronically mediated forms of communication, like cell phones, are changing communication methods.
"I spent some time looking at our ideas within social psychology and sociology about what is the value of face-to-face communication, what makes it distinctive, and then what is it that is different about (electronically) mediated communication," Kurth said.
Kurth maintains a strict policy of not allowing cell phones in class, but all professors do not share this view. Jim Stovall, an Edward J. Meeman Distinguished Professor of Journalism at UT, has a generally permissive point of view regarding cell phones in the classroom.
"Every time I've thought about (banning cell phones in class), or tried to do it, students say 'I'm taking notes,'" Stovall said. "It's hard to argue against that. If they are, that's great."
A variety of research has been conducted recently on the effects of cell phones among student populations. Predictably, these studies show both positive and negative effects of students having cell phones, particularly in academic settings.
In a study that used text messaging to support administrative communication in higher education, researchers found that students responded positively to the method and content of the experiment. Universities across the country have implemented programs, like UT Alert, to provide students with important information.
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