Understanding and Reacting to the Digital Distraction Phenomenon in College Classrooms

Document Type

Contribution to Book

Publication Date


Publication Title

Digital Distractions in the College Classroom






Student use of digital devices for non-class purposes has become ubiquitous in college classrooms across the globe—a phenomenon commonly referred to as digital distraction. The purpose of the chapter is to provide readers with an overview of the prevalence of student digital distraction in college classrooms, an understanding of the factors that contribute to student digital distraction, and a summary of the outcomes experienced by students who succumb to digital distraction during class. The reviewed research indicates that mobile phones and laptop computers are the devices used most for off-task purposes during class. Environmental and person-centered factors appear especially consequential for the motivational interference potential of mobile devices in college classrooms. Unfortunately, student digital distraction has deleterious effects on student learning and the quality of student-instructor rapport in college classrooms. The chapter concludes with descriptions of five strategies college instructors can use to curb student digital distraction in their classrooms.


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