‘Mobile phone addiction and multi-tasking: Should we ban mobile phones in the classroom?”’

Authors: Glendening, N. and Cooper, K.

Start date: 5 September 2017

The ongoing technological and internet reformation of recent decades has brought about many pedagogical benefits to healthcare education. However, the increasing “Millennial and Net Generations” constant connection to the internet and the impact this continuous exposure has on students’ learning, achievement, motivation and metacognition is also an emerging global concern, albeit one that has received little contemporary debate within healthcare education. This theme paper session therefore introduces the increasing global and multi-disciplinary research evidence related to the distracting impact of mobile phone technology in the classroom and its significant impact on student engagement and academic outcomes. In doing so it offers various theoretical explanations to explain these findings including: the unconscious habit reinforcing nature of mobile phones and social media; coping in response to cognitive overload and mental exhaustion; and the distracting and overestimation of multi-tasking ability together with the corresponding underestimation of the recovery period and negative consequences of this by students themselves. The rationale being that to find effective solutions, you have to first critically understand the problem.

The session concludes by facilitating a debate on how healthcare educators might effectively respond and whether this should include a ban on mobile phones in the classroom. Issues for debate therefore include: 1. Why do students become distracted by their mobile phones while in the classroom? 2. Does this raise professional, ethical and pedagogical issues and concerns for contemporary and future health education? 3. How can we as healthcare educators better engage students so they might be less likely to be distracted by their mobile phone? 4. Should (and can) we ban mobile phones in the classroom?

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