Explain how cell phone use in the classroom has adverse effects on students ability to focus.

Week 3 Path 1 Argumentation Assignment
When working on our definitions of critical thinking, we learned that the word critical isnt necessarily negative. Though we use the word in that context often (as in, She is so critical of everyone), we found that critical can also have a positive sense, like analytic or evaluative.

The word argument is similar in that we often immediately think of it as a negative: My best friend and I are having an argument. However, in the realm of critical thinking, an argument is the basis for good thinking, for understanding, and even for progress. So, be sure that you understand this word and the others on the list below in the way that they are used in the critical thinking context.

Be sure you are familiar with the textbook’s description of each of the following terms and its definition:

Issue
Argument
Proposition
Conclusion
Premise
Explanation
Conditional Statement
An argument will have premises and conclusions. You would be expected in a longer debate or paper to flesh out your premises with good evidence (think back to last week). The book has several examples of this, but here is another:

Premise: IT majors usually get employment in their field once they graduate college.
Premise: IT careers pay well.
Premise: People should make enough money to live comfortably.
Conclusion: Therefore, one should major in IT.

Notice that each premise can be argued and would need evidence to support it. This is what would fill out the discussion or the paper if you were to be arguing this in the real world. Also note that the first premises are descriptive and the third is prescriptive. Either way, they are propositions that someone could challenge as being true or false.

In evaluating an argument, you can ask yourself 5 questions. Write these in your notes, as they will be useful when we start writing the argumentation essay.

1. Clarity: Is the argument clear and unambiguous?
2. Credibility: Are the premises supported by evidence?
3. Relevance: Are the premises relevant to the conclusion?
4. Completeness: Are there any unstated premises or conclusions?
5. Soundness: Are the premises true and do they support the conclusion?

Read the sample essay below and complete the 4 questions at the end.

The Contextual Effects of Cell Phone Use on Students

According to Isiklar et al. (2013), 87% of the worlds population uses cell phones to do everything from placing calls and receiving texts to playing games and taking photographs (p. 9). Many studies about cell phone use begin with a statistic similar to the one used by Isiklar et al. to demonstrate the pervasiveness of cell phone technology, and researchers frequently focus on students as one of the groups most affected by constant cell phone use. However, many researchers do not find the exact cause and effect relationship they are looking for in young adults. For example, Nathan and Zeitzer (2013) found there was no measurable increase in a students daily fatigue due to the number of texts and calls they received (p. 5). This lack of predicted outcomes suggests the effects of cell phone use on teens and young adults have been somewhat over-emphasized. What the studies do show is that cell phone use during times designated for other key activities, such as studying, socializing, and sleeping, correlates with other struggles typically associated with adolescence, such as focus and retention, poor self-worth, and fatigue.

Researchers do have reason to suspect cell phone use in the classroom and during study has adverse effects on a students ability to focus on learning, but the issue is complicated. According to surveys, 99% of students report having used a cell phone during designated class time, a greater number than the 97% who report having used a cell phone while driving (Elder, 2013, p. 589). To gauge the effects of this habit, Elder (2013) conducted a study in which students listened to a mini-lecture and took a corresponding quiz. Researchers instructed half of the students to use their cell phones during the lecture, while the other half listened without technological distractions (p. 588). All of the students performed badly on the quiz, which initially appears to disprove the hypothesis that cell phones negatively affect learning.

However, Elder suggested a few reasons for his skewed results. First, none of the students were invested in the lecture and, thus, did poorly on the quiz (p. 591). This indifference prevented the distracted students from standing out in the results because all of the students in the study were disengaged. Additionally, the mini-lecture was only 12 minutes long, a length that failed to simulate real academic conditions. Elder concluded, Sustained multi-tasking during longer lectures are more analogous to how students actually engage with their phones during courses (p. 590). Elders study demonstrates that distraction and inattention is one of the real culprits

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