Ditch the Phone for Better Grades

Students walk on campus while looking at their phones

Want better grades? Experts say, ditch the phone.

So says Tracy Proulx, Harrington School senior lecturer. Her course “COM 321: Social Media and Interpersonal Communication” requires students to examine what effect their social media and technology use has on their perceptions, identities, and relationships.

But don’t be caught using your phone in class.

“The rule is no phones,” Proulx said. “If a student is even touching a phone, it’s one point off their final average.”

Her justification: Researchers have found that a student with a phone on their desk will score lower on an assessment than one who keeps their phone in their backpack.

In the course of the semester, Proulx requires students to analyze their social media usage for a  week, asking questions such as, “How many days, weeks, years did you waste on myspace? You can’t get that time back. What could you have been doing? And just because it’s on social media, is that really what’s going on in life?

Students are often aghast at their self-study. “I’m a horrible person,” one student told Proulx. “I’ve been wasting my life.”

Proulx’s response: “Use it, but understand it. Don’t let it dictate life.”

Students are so animated and opinionated in Proulx’s class that she said she seldom gets through an entire lesson plan. It’s no wonder with the questions she asks. An example: In 2017, Saudi Arabia became the first country to give citizenship to a robot named Sophia. “Can we replace a person with a robot and how does that translate into real life?” she said. “Can it die? Is it alive enough for you?”

Makes you look at your phone a bit differently, doesn’t it?