Cellphone use in class prompts professors to get creative with consequences


In today’s technologic setting, one item is increasingly prevalent: the cellular phone. Classrooms are full of them, and professors are taking notice.

There is no university rule that states cell phones are not allowed in classrooms. Therefore, professors and instructors are left to decide how they handle the use of phones during class.

Some professors do not have any consequences for phones in class, but others enforce a wide range of punishments.

According to a news release from the Department of Hotel, Restaurant, Institution Management and Dietetics on Feb. 17, Patrick Pesci, program director of the hotel and restaurant management program, has conducted etiquette workshops for more than 15 years and said he thinks cell phone usage might need to be added as a topic of discussion during the workshops.

“We have students that have their cell phones on constantly,” Pesci said. “It’s getting to the point where I have to announce in class to turn cell phones off or put them on vibrate and leave them in the students’ backpacks. I do not want the cell phone out on the desk or table. It’s a distraction.”

Nora Ransom, English instructor, is one teacher who has specific consequences for those students whose cell phones ring in class.

“I tell students during the discussion of the course objectives that they are expected to behave professionally in my class, and professional behavior requires that they turn their cell phones off,” Ransom said. “In addition, if a student’s cell phone does ring in class, the student is to bring treats to the next class meeting. Typically, this is doughnuts or cookies, but the nutrition students often bring something healthy.”

Caitlin Peterson, junior in secondary education, said she has not had to deal with any cell phone usage consequences, but she has known other students who have.

“I had a friend whose cell phone went off in Dr. Kelly Welch’s class her freshman year, and Dr. Welch answered it,” Peterson said.

Craig Parker, associate professor of music history and music, also takes a different approach to dealing with cell phones in class. He answers the student’s phone if it rings and says whatever he wants – and vice versa. If his phone happens to ring during class, he gives it to a student to answer as he or she wants.

Parker said he typically only has one student per course who forgets to shut off a phone before class, and he never has had any repeat offenders. He also said he has never had a student put up a fight to hand over the phone, because they’ve been warned since the first day.

“Since in-state students at K-State pay approximately $18 for every 50-minute class session, I think it is the height of arrogance and insensitivity to disrupt everyone else’s learning experience by letting one’s cell phone ring during class,” Parker said.