Distraction or a tool?

Cell phones have been a part of our lives for years. They’re everywhere and everyone has one. But are they okay in the classroom? Are they appropriate to have out, or are they too much of a distraction?

Marco Lam / Castleton Spartan

Many students feel cell phones should be allowed
in class, but professors have other thoughts.

Students and faculty of Castleton University have mixed feelings on that question.

Assistant professor in the sociology department, Jennifer Turchi, has a strict policy on cell phone use in the classroom.

 “I don’t typically allow cell phones in class. I actually go one step further and ask my students to put them away, so it’s not that they’re just turned off, but they’re not even on their desk,” she said.

However, sometimes her opinion changes depending on if the phone is needed for searching for valuable answers on Google. But after the exercise, they are to go right back away.

“They are a distraction and I think it’s important for students to focus on what’s happening in class, so I just don’t even allow them,” Turchi said.

Andrew Alexander, an associate professor and chair of the English department, has a more of a relaxed approach about cell phones in class.

 “My policy is an informal policy rather than a formal policy about cell phones. I don’t ban them and I don’t say that I allow them. I typically put my feelings about cell phones in a policy about being a professional and considerate of other students and if students aren’t calling attention to themselves, then I won’t say anything about it,” Alexander said.

 However Alexander has noticed a trend about students and their cellphones.

“The student’s you need to call attention to are almost always students who aren’t doing well in class. It’s a good correlation. It’s not causation, but it’s a good correlation of how students do in the classroom,” Alexander said.

Bob Gershon, head of the communication department, has a similar stance, an informal policy for some of his classes, yet, formal for others. Gershon doesn’t believe in the “multitasking” theory students claim.

 “The idea of that you’re multitasking is a myth, and there is a fair amount of scientific proof of that. People think they’re multi-tasking, but really what they’re really doing is spending a little time on this and a little time on that, but they’re never really doing two things at once. Your brain just doesn’t work that way,” Gershon said.

But not surprisingly, many students have different opinions on phone policies.

“I think cell phones should be used at the student’s risk. It is their choice to use their phone during class, and not the professor’s fault if the student does not learn the information taught that day,” said sophomore Kiley Baran.

Sophomore Bryan Vachereau believes it should be up to students whether they want their phones out or not.

 “I think it should be allowed because some kids can learn better with a little distraction,” he said. “As it is, kids lose information worrying about having to check their phones nowadays because, it’s their lives,” Vachereau said.

Vachereau also said he has “done better in classes where I am allowed to utilize my phone.”

 But sophomore Elly Zelazny has a completely different opinion and seems to side with the professors.

 “I think phones shouldn’t be used, unless it’s for a class related activity,” Zelazny said.

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