Should instructors forbid use of cell phones in class?

More than 24,000 undergraduate students nationwide were ambivalent when asked if instructors should be able to ban cell phone use during class. The EduCAUSE annual survey, which included St. Thomas students, was released this week.

Fifty-three percent of St. Thomas students who participated in the EduCAUSE survey agreed that instructors should be able to ban cell phone use during class: 25 percent of the St. Thomas participants disagreed.

But when TommieMedia asked students and faculty what they thought, the results were one sided.

Yes, instructors should have the authority to forbid the use of cell phones and handhelds during class.

Katie Wood
Katie Wood

“They shouldn’t penalize grades but it’s also disrespectful.” –Katie Wood, junior.

“It’s their environment, their classroom. They should be able to remove those distractions.” –Sarah DeCock, junior

“They are a distraction to the class and the teacher can’t do their job.” –Nate Chicos, junior

“It’s pretty annoying when a phone goes off [during class].” –Amber Marshik, junior

“It’s their class; people can stop using their phone for an hour.” –Matthew Eldred, senior

“It’s rude. You’re paying about $150 for a class session.” –Madeline Jack, junior

Greg Dowe
Greg Dowe

“If you choose to use it, you can go outside.” –Greg Dowe, senior

“You’re privileged to be there so you should respect it.” –David Erstad, senior

No, instructors should not forbid cell phones:

“A lot of cell phones can go on the internet so they can be a good tool. But there are also too many ways to cheat.” –Kristin Vasko, sophomore

What do professors think?

“Students and faculty may want to have phones for emergencies. I ask that students silence their phones and not use them unless they are expecting an emergency call. This is all to create a respectful sense of community in the classroom where people are listening to each other.” –Ann Johnson, psychology department chair

Dan Jones
Dan Jones

“From the perspective of an instructor, when cell phones go off they always break up something in class. If there is an ill relative, or some sort of family emergency, that’s fine as long as the student clears it with me ahead of time.” –Dan Jones, English professor

What do you think? Go to our TommieMedia poll and vote.

Stephani Bloomquist and Katie Broadwell contributed to this report.

Rebecca Omastiak can be reached at

One Reply to “Should instructors forbid use of cell phones in class?”

  1. I think it is rude and distracting when students text message in class. Students with laptops who are checking out facebook and doing irrelevant work are in the same category. Although I sometimes use my cell phone in class its only to look up a definition or check a stock quote we are discussing. I think students need to ask themselves, if you are sitting in a meeting at work with your boss, are you going to be ‘liking’ people’s status or texting about where you are going for lunch later? This kind of behavior will make our school look bad, although it gives me a better chance at scoring one of the few job openings available.

Comments are closed.