Lucy Morsen’s (2010) essay, “A Proposal to Improve the Campus Learning Environment by Banning Laptops and Cell Phones from Class,” is a formal request by the author to campus policymakers. The author seeks to convince the faculty to carry out a ban on the use of cell phones and laptops in classrooms. According to the author, some students, herself included, have become victims of the incessant use of gadgets in lecture halls. Morse’s reasoning is that discontinuing the use of gadgets in classrooms will improve the overall classroom experience for both students and instructors. The proposal points out that even some of the students who regularly use laptops and cell phones are suffering without knowing. The author cites several research studies that point out the negative effects of classroom gadget usage. The article concludes by noting that the decision to ban gadget use should not be left upon instructors. Instead, the university administration should make this important decision, thereby exempting instructors from the stigma that accompanies this ban.
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This article is mainly intended for the school faculty, especially the policymakers who have the ability to affect a ban on gadget-use in classrooms. Consequently, the article specifically addresses this demographic. Furthermore, the author seeks to appeal to students who share her sentiments on the distractive nature of cell phone and laptop usage in classrooms. The manner in which the article is written makes it relevant even to the students who engage in the described vice. The article has the capacity to open the students’ eyes on a matter that they had previously ignored. The author uses various methods of persuasive writing to get her message heard by all the targeted demographics.
The author is successful in her bid to remain objective even when she is covering a divisive subject. The author introduces herself as a student who is a victim of the vice that she wants policymakers to address. However, after this statement of interest, the author remains objective throughout the paper. For instance, the author shares her experiences in class not as an individual but as a random student in a classroom. Another successful use of ethos in the essay is exemplified through the manner in which the writer goes against popular opinion without adopting a standoffish attitude. For instance, the author only refers to students’ behaviors and not the learners themselves. Nevertheless, the fact that the author is a first-year student and she is directly related to the matter undermines her proposal. As a first-year student, the author might be just having trouble adjusting to the new environment.
Substantial evidence is used to support the authors’ argument, including the use of statistics and expert opinions. For example, the author cites research from other universities, including Stanford and Winona. However, there are instances when the expert testimony ends up contrasting the author’s point of view. This is the case when the author cites a study of laptop usage in classrooms. This research articulates that gadgets are the only form of distraction for students. However, this is not the case because distraction takes several forms, including visual, mental, and even preoccupation. Removing gadgets in the classroom will not practically eliminate distractions in class. Overall, there is no evidence to show that distractions in classrooms started with the advent of gadgets.
Emotions are well utilized in this essay because the author aims to present herself as a student under siege. Therefore, it is important for the writer to lay out her claims in a manner that resonates with the emotions of faculty members, instructors, and fellow students. It is clear that the author is emotional about the distracting nature of gadgets in class. The first thing all learners should learn is how to concentrate with their tasks. Before the advent of gadgets, there were other forms of distractions including student-to-student communications, chewing of gum, turning of pages, outside noises, and distractive students. Therefore, the author is being emotional by overemphasizing on the distractions of modern gadgets. Nevertheless, the author uses pathos in the right manner by pointing out the dilemma of both institutions and instructors when it comes to banning of gadgets in classrooms.
The essay carries a strong tone in line with the author’s vehement opposition against use of cell phones and laptops. The author does not give any chance for negotiations in the essay and she uses phrases such as ‘campus-wide ban’, ‘I question the academic motivation of my classmates’ and ‘undercut my enjoyment of class’. These phrases are strong statements on the author’s gadget-ban proposal. The author realizes that her classmates are most likely to react to her claims in a negative manner. Therefore, she continuously refers to them as ‘classmates’. For instance, this statement is meant to inspire a reaction: “Many of my classmates may actually welcome the ban because they-like myself are aware of…” (Morsen, 2010). These statements of camaraderie are meant to inform the readers that she has no ill intentions toward her fellow students because she is suffering with them.
Morsen, L. (2010). A Proposal to Improve the Campus Learning Environment by Banning Laptops and Cell Phones from Class. In J. D. Ramage, J. C. Bean & J. Johnson (Eds.), The Allyn & Bacon Guide to Writing 7th Edition (pp. 396-399). Boston, MA: Pearson.