College Brief: Study shows texting in class hinders learning

Boston University senior Sana Ali said she usually pays attention in class, but she will text when she has the opportunity.

“I have a lot of three hour classes,” she said. “If I focus for the first two hours, I feel like it’s OK to send a text. It’s a reward system for paying attention and staying on task.”

A recent study, which will appear in the July 2012 issue of the National Communication Association’s journal “Communication Education” found students who text more in class were less attentive and demonstrated lower grades.

Boston University psychology professor David Somers said the results of the study were not surprising.

“It seems pretty obvious to me that students who are distracted in class, by texting or anything else, will get less out of lectures,” Somers said in an email interview. “Multitasking typically leads to impairment of performance of both tasks, unless one of the tasks is very automated.”

Students who text in class often perceived themselves as having learned less, according to the study, which surveyed 190 University of Pittsburgh-Bradford students.

Those who reported higher levels of self-regulation graded themselves better and reported learning more.

— By Allie DeAngelis

The Daily Free Press, Boston University