Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science


Behavior Analysis and Therapy

First Advisor

Redner, Ryan


Cell phone use has become ubiquitous in many settings, including the college classroom. Research has shown many negative impacts of cell phone usage on classroom outcomes. For this reason, professors have implemented polices to reduce in-class cell phone use. An ABAB design was used to evaluate a reinforcement-based policy in an undergraduate course (N = 9). The policy involved allowing the students two 2-minute “technology breaks” throughout the three-hour course. Technology breaks conditions were alternated with baseline conditions in which there were no programmed consequences for cell phone use. Data on cell phone use was collected using the PLACHECK method in which trained observers counted the number of students physically interacting with their phones at 10 second intervals. Results showed that usage decreased during the intervention phase (M = 0.5%) from baseline (M = 0.8%). Researchers also calculated quiz scores for the two conditions. There was no statistically significant difference between intervention (M = 70.3%) and baseline conditions (M = 69.2%), (F(7) = 1.68, p = .24). Overall, the study showed technology breaks as a promising way to incorporate a reinforcement-based procedure to reduce classroom cell phone use, but the policy did not reduce cell phone usage to zero.




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