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UNI professor's research finds texting in class results in lower grades

June 4, 2013

Dennis Clayson, professor of marketing, University of Northern Iowa College of Business Administration, 319-273-6015,

Debra Haley, associate professor of marketing, Southeastern Oklahoma University School of Business, 580-745-2374 or

Rebecca Schultze, communications and public relations manager, UNI College of Business Administration, 319-273-3309,

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa – Students who texted in class receive lower grades, according to research results published in the Dec. 6, 2012, edition of the Journal of Marketing Education.

"An Introduction to Multitasking and Texting: Prevalence and Impact on Grades and GPA in Marketing Classes," co-authored by University of Northern Iowa professor of marketing Dennis Clayson and Southeastern Oklahoma University associate professor of marketing Debra Haley, states that even though students thought they could follow a lecture and text at the same time, survey respondents who texted in marketing classes received lower grades than their non-texting peers.

The authors surveyed 300 students from UNI and Southeastern, and found consistent results at the two universities. Among the surveyed students:

- 94 percent received texts in class.

- 86 percent texted someone from class.

- 61 percent didn't think they should text during a class.

- 56 percent had a class that banned texting, but 49 percent reported that they continued to text anyway.

- 47 percent said they could text and follow a lecture at the same time.

- the number of texts sent/received didn't seem to affect the grades; grades were affected by whether students text or not.

"The idea that people can multitask is largely untrue. Studies show that the ability to handle complex cognitive interactions may actually decrease with an increase of multitasking," Clayson said.

Since it's likely a student is going to text in class, Clayson says teachers need to consider how they will handle texting. The issue, Clayson says, is not why texting would lower grades, but why college classes don't carry enough cognitive load so that texting would more noticeably disrupt it. In addition, similar to texting in a meeting, texting in class is unprofessional, he says.

If you are interested in discussing this research, you can contact Clayson at 319-273-6015 or Haley can be reached at 580-745-2374 or