Cell Phone Etiquette in Class

Maybe ten years ago, you might have expected most professors to feel downright annoyed when a cell phone rang in their classroom. And who could blame them? Cell phones back there were less inconspicuous and less accepted in social situations. And even nowadays you can expect some professors to get frustrated to discover that their students are texting instead of completely following along with the lectures. After all, how can we expect a student who is texting to grasp the subject matter at hand? However, as cell phone technology improves and recent studies on student behavior suggest that students can still be academically successful despite texting, cell phone use in classrooms will rise, perhaps for the benefit of all involved.

Because many professors are still skeptical of how students truly use their cell phones, it is probably best that you talk to your professor early in the semester about his or her cell phone policies. Often, professors will define these policies in their syllabi; however, that doesn’t mean you can’t go talk to them about it. Some professors are very open to shifting or changing their policies.

If your professor allows cell phones in the classroom or changes his or her policies to allow them, then be sure to respect those policies, as your professor clearly appreciates the importance of collaborating with his or her students to make the classroom a good learning community. Some professors will even allow you to step out of class to take a call. Others will overlook texting as long as you’re not disrupting the overall atmosphere of the class. These professors will also be glad to have you use your cell phone during class to look up an article, the spelling and meaning of a word, or to find useful resources that could benefit the whole class.

But if a professor has a zero-tolerance policy regarding cell phones, then you should do your best to respect it. After all, it’s not worth endangering your participation grade just so you can text your buddy about weekend plans. In these cases, the old rules still apply.

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