Date of Award

Spring 2022

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


Educational Studies

First Advisor

Suha Tamim


The purpose of this action research study was to investigate by using a PBL design if giving student more ownership in classroom cellphone policies has positive outcomes. This study looked at not only the behavioral aspect of classroom cellphone usage, but also the impacts of using a PBL design on student engagement, ownership, and knowledge construction. This study was also framed on constructivism. Students built on their own prior knowledge and worked collaboratively to solve a real-world problem. The research focused on answering three questions. The first question looked at how students synthesize and evaluate the literature to construct knowledge and create a cellphone policy. The second question asked how a PBL design engages students in that process. The third question asked how ownership impacted student distractibility, anxiety, and academic performance.

Both quantitative and qualitative data collection instruments were used and showed that student knowledge construction, and engagement increased as the study progressed. The instruments also revealed a high level of ownership as students were highly invested in their artifacts. Once the student created policy was in place there was a slight decrease in the number of cellphone related behaviors, and the number of warnings that I was giving to students. Importantly, half of the students in the study who were not turning in assignments and had other behavior concerns, had a decrease in the number of cellphone related incidents when the student policy was in place. Also, a larger decrease of three fourths of the types of behaviors that were observed during the trial period was recorded. Over half of the students reported a decrease in their own distractibility after the student policy was in place and felt that cellphones had a positive impact on their academic performance. When asked what they liked most about this intervention, several students reported that they liked having a voice in cellphone policies.

An action plan was developed to take the principles of student voice and ownership used in this study and apply them on a larger scale to help increase positive impacts related to student cellphone usage in the classroom.


© 2022, Melynda Elaine Diehl