A lecturers decision to ban “devices” from class is incredibly unpopular with his students but research suggests he may be right. Leading us to ask “whose responsibility is it to ensure you are engaged?”
Professor Shikhar Sarin, a new lecturer in Waikato Management School, has enacted a ban on laptops in his course, preferring students to hand-write their notes. Sarin cites studies suggesting handwriting notes is more useful for the retention of information. However some students are claiming they need laptops to study effectively.
Sakrin explained 'The no screen policy for MKTG 352 is not a blanket one – it only pertains to the lecture portion of the paper. There is a separate Lab portion of the paper where the students are encouraged to use their devices to engage in external research and statistical analysis. Even for the lecture portion, accommodations are made for students who have validated reasons to use devices'.
'I would not presume to speak for all academic staff and papers, but such paper-related decisions are routinely made by academic staff (in the best interest of the students) – after careful consideration of the nature of the paper, the learning objectives, the course design, and the pedagogical approach adopted for each paper'.
A number of students reached out to Nexus wishing to remain anonymous, but suggest that the relationship between the lecturer and the class has been damaged by the restrictions:
'If anything, it’s lost him respect… No one is happy in these classes. The atmosphere is so icy'.
Students suggested that while the lecturer was right to want respect from his students, given that it was the students who were paying for the lectures it was unfair on them to be restricted in their use of technology.
“It’s absurd to suggest that everyone should bring paper powerpoint slides to lectures everytime”.
'Some people like to type their notes, some people like to use their phone to record, and them having that options is more beneficial'.
Not all students are opposed to Sakrin’s “no screen” policy. Class rep Srishtika Prakash supports her lecturer’s decision “I’m in support of it… It feels like I’m paying so much more attention in class'.
She was also quick to point out that the lectures were recorded, so students could go over their notes any time they wished.
She felt it was as much an issue with adjusting to a new lecturer as anything else. “'The fact that he’s new probably makes people he’s bringing his American ways in… I think it would be different if their favourite lecturer suggested no screens.”
We asked two random class members what their problem was:
Do you believe your lecturer is willfully making this class difficult for you?
No, I don’t believe he’s wilfully making this class hard for me, but fuck he’s really doing a good job of giving me excuses to not go to lectures.
Yes, this is the final year of my degree, I’ve managed to get all the way through, I think it’ll be smooth sailing, and then I get into my last class and now it’s as if they’re just trying to make it so much harder.
The studies the lecturer has cited are evidence that you will benefit from this decision, does that information alter your view?
Alright, this is what really annoys me the most, so he’s gone and given all this research which is cool, good on him. However, it’s ridiculous to state it’s gonna benefit everyone. Just because it works for some, doesn’t mean you take it away from others who might learn differently? If you get distracted by blue light, go sit at the front. Simple.
No, because I’m paying to be here. If I want to waste my time in the lecture browsing Glassons while I pretend to do my work then I can do that. I think he’s gone about it the wrong way.
Do you believe your lecturer has a right to control the way in which students behave in their class?
Haha yeah nah fuck no. To a certain degree yes, like if he told me not to smoke inside I’d probably say fair enough, but if you're telling me “don’t go on your phone in class” you can jog on. I pay $6000+ a year to be able to turn up to lectures and learn in my own personal way. I’m not at school anymore mate, what’s gonna be next? Seating arrangements?
I mean it’s a fine line. He’s talking about how being on your ‘screen’ in class is disrespectful, but tell that to all the other teachers and lecturers that we’ve had over the years who’ve let us do it, and encouraged us to do it. I can understand why he’d want that respect but I think he’s gone the wrong way about getting it, if anything it’s lost him respect because nobody is happy in these classes, like the atmosphere is so icy.