A syllabus policy against texting that is not explicitly enforced is inadequate to stop classroom texting. In larger classes, perhaps 20-30% of students will text in class without a regularly enforced policy.
Do not solve the problem by turning the class into an entertainment center. Do not expect a transformation in the culture that will solve the problem for you. To stop texting in your class, you must make a policy and enforce it.
Teacher reaction to texting should not focus on the lack of respect to the teacher but the negative impact to the learning environment and students’ reflective ability. Don’t expect all students to agree.
Fact: Switch cost: Each time we resume an activity, our brains need to “recontextualize.” ◦ 20-40% efficiency is lost. (“Media multitaskers pay mental price,” Stanford Report, August 24, 2009)
Fact: Diffusion of mental resources: the greater the number of tasks, the greater the number of errors we make in completing those tasks.
Fact: Assessment bias: Humans almost always overestimate their performance on most tasks.
Some students may regard tough enforcement of a texting policy as a personal violation. However, most students in the class will support a tough policy if it is enforced seriously but without a reactionary attitude.
After explaining your policy, you must enforce it. Periodically remind students of it, encouraging positive behavior. Do not overlook exceptions but stick to the policy or texting will creep back in (week 3, week 8, week 13).
Explain that watches are to be used to check time, not cell phones.
On the second class session, have the students sign a “class covenant” in which your texting policy is summarized. They know it is tough. They agree explicitly to the policy and consequences.
The use of cell phones and text messaging is not permitted in class at any time. If you want to know the time during class, please wear a watch. Cell phones should be turned off and put away before class begins. If the instructor sees a student using a cell phone during class, the instructor will stop the class and ask the student to place the cell phone on the instructor’s desk. The student may either place the cell phone on the desk or leave for the remainder of the class session. The instructor will deduct 15 points from the attendance and participation part of the student’s grade for each incident of cell phone use.
"Please turn off your cell phones during class; do not text during class."