In every class, it’s easy to see the people that really just don’t want to be there. They are the ones that are rocking their AirPods in the back of the class or surfing the web. If these people are going to be in class, is it really too much for them to pay attention?
I’m not talking to the people who check their notifications once or twice during a class; believe me, I do that too. I’m talking to people that are just there for the attendance policy and then immediately get online and go to non-course material.
This lack of attention is especially prevalent in large lecture classes for several reasons. First, they are hard to monitor, because of the class size. Secondly, most larger lecture classes are less major-specific. This leads some students to discount the value of the class because it doesn’t fit what they want to study.
There are two main things that make this important. For one, when one of these students decides it’s better to ignore the instruction in class instead of paying attention, they are wasting part of their investment into a college education. The second is that their distraction harms other students.
On the first front, college students are paying to get a degree in a chosen area of expertise. If students are paying so much money to receive a nice piece of paper that says they learned about their chosen focus, then it’s worth the extra effort to actually learn.
The other thing that makes not paying attention in class so bothersome is that it doesn’t just affect the student distracting themselves, it affects the attentiveness of other students. In a study done by Carrie B. Fried at Winona State University, 64% of students surveyed said they had been distracted by other people’s use of laptops. Just because someone can do well in a class even though they stream TV shows every lecture doesn’t mean that the person sitting behind them can deal with seeing the screen.
When students choose to distract themselves in class, they take for granted the opportunity to learn. They often see college as a job to escape as soon as possible. Instead students should view college as a privilege. We get to be among peers and mentors. We have access to so many experiences and great resources and knowledge. Instead of being jaded and ignoring the teaching we have access to, we should take full advantage of it.
I know that those that are most culpable for this aren’t the kind of people that normally read school newspaper articles, but still for all of us, it’s important to recognize how privileged we are to be at USC. We should take advantage of the classes and resources we have while we have them.