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How Faculty Can Affect Student Texting, Distraction, Grades, and Attitudes

Page history last edited by Molly Hepworth 7 years, 2 months ago

How Faculty Can Affect Student Texting, Distraction, Grades, and Attitudes


Primary Presenter: Douglas Duncan

Organization: University of Colorado Boulder

Role: Faculty member in Astrophysics

Track: Discussion

Topic: Disruptive Innovation

Level: For Mere Mortals


Abstract: Student use of technology is often not what FACULTY plan! Our results published in 2012 show that 70 percent of students use their phones during class, and these students earn grades 0.36 ± 0.08 less on a 4-point scale where 4.0 = A. Our latest research confirms the drop but shows that faculty policies strongly affect student grades and attitudes. We will lead a discussion of phone policies and outcomes.


Bio: Dr. Douglas Duncan has experience in technology (staff of the Hubble Space Telescope), museums (Director, Fiske Planetarium, CU Boulder), teaching (2011 National Astronomy Teacher of the Year, University Level), and science communication (Science Commentator, National Public Radio station WBEZ, Chicago). He authored the first book on teaching with student response systems: "Clickers in the Classroom (2006)”. His current research, done jointly with sociologist Dr. Angel Hoekstra, concerns how the use of technology affects students’ performance, behavior, and attitudes.


Description: Technology companies spend millions of dollars enticing faculty and administrators to use their products for teaching. These technologies are usually demonstrated in a controlled setting nothing like actual classrooms.

In the REAL WORLD, we are in an age of universal and constant social connectivity. The use of networking and peer interaction mechanisms such as text messaging, Twitter, and Facebook result in a constant stream of social stimulation, all at the touch of a smart phone or iPad. The stimuli provided by these devices is instant and strong.
The coexistence of teaching technologies and enticing digital devices creates an environment in which instructors are competing for the attention of their students. Can a lecture on DNA replication possibly compare with the thrill of receiving a text message—an affirmation of connectivity and self-worth in the social sphere? Do faculty policies matter? Do they affect students' attitudes, behavior, and performance? We now have observation and interview data drawn from over 750 students in 8 classes over 2 years. Faculty policies and discussions DO have a strong influence on students. We will show our data and then lead a discussion on how faculty NEED to discuss technology use with their students.

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