Texting can lead to poorer learning

Classroom attentiveness can be significantly affected when college students frequently spend time text messaging. This is according to a new study published in the National Communication Association's journal Communication Education, which found this trend could result in poorer learning outcomes for pupils.

Fang-Yi Flora Wei, Assistant Professor of Broadcast Communications at the University of Pittsburgh-Bradford, revealed the findings show texting can impact a person's ability to pay attention - a faculty needed in order for effective cognitive learning to take place.

The investigation noted many college goers may believe they are able to do two things at once when in the lecture theatre, but Ms Wei observed: "The real concern is not whether students can learn under a multitasking condition, but how well they can learn if they cannot sustain their full attention on classroom instruction."

Ms Wei added that although banning mobile use during lectures might not prove overly effective, students themselves should consider limiting the amount of time they spend on the devices when in a learning environment.

Dr Jeremy Swinson, Chartered Psychologist, commented: "This is very old psychology indeed.

"In 1953 Colin Cherry described the 'cocktail party syndrome', which basically states that the brain can only process one channel of information at a time.

"Hence, students can either attend to the lecture or to their text messages, but not both. Obviously writing your own message will take more processing and is therefore more distracting. So Ms Wei is right and her students are wrong.

"In virtually all primary and secondary classrooms in the UK, mobile phones are banned for this reason [and] I don't know of any specific research in this area.

"Ensuring students at any level attend to the lesson or lecture is fundamentally down to the skills of the teacher in developing and maintaining interest by their presentational skills and the feedback they provide to their students.

"I know in most higher education, students are asked to switch off, but students being students often put their phones on silent and text out of sight.

"Incidentally Colin Cherry is a very interesting psychologist. He was in at the beginning of what became cognitive psychology and was interested in phenomenon of everyday life - hence his interest in the cocktail party syndrome, where you always hear amid the chatter at a party if your name is mentioned."