Marshall faculty member’s research to be published for her work with text messaging as innovative teaching tool

Dr. Kay Swartzwelder of the College of Health Professions has had her manuscript, “Examining the Effect of Texting on Students’ Perception of Learning,” accepted for publication in Nursing Education Perspectives.

Swartzwelder, an assistant professor in the college’s School of Nursing, said the purpose of her research was to examine the effects of utilizing text messaging as an instructional tool in an online learning environment.

“Each student learns differently and the techniques used in the past won’t be effective forever – we have to change how we are teaching our students in order to reach them,” Swartzwelder said. “With my research, I learned students felt more engaged in the course and enjoyed learning much more when using text messaging.”

Dr. Nancy Elkins, also an assistant professor in the School of Nursing, said she was influenced by Swartzwelder’s research findings and decided to use text messaging in her own classroom with Poll Everywhere, which is a free student response system. Instructors can prepare a list of questions for assessment purposes and students can text or use the Web to answer.

“This generation uses their phones every day and takes them everywhere they go,” Elkins said. “I’m very open to using new technology to reach every student and when I heard about Professor Swartzwelder’s research, it seemed like a great idea to stimulate interaction and group participation.”

Swartzwelder and Elkins are not the only two professors in the Marshall School of Nursing using texts to teach. Dr. Jeanne Widener, associate professor in the school, said she chose to utilize text messaging in her medical-surgical nursing course because she believes the standard lecture is not keeping the attention of students in the classroom.

“I’ve found that several students slept through all or part of the class, even though it was only 60 minutes of lecture beyond the announcements and discussion of assignments,” Widener said. “I strongly believe that texting in the classroom is a good option for the current students. The fact it is free has made it easy for me to use it guilt free. Informally, the students have stated they seem to feel the interaction and immediate feedback does make them think more and several distant-site students have thanked me for using this approach because they can now participate in classroom activities.”

“As educators, we always need to explore new ways to help students become excited about lifelong learning,” Swartzwelder said. “In the future, I hope to expand my research and explore specifics about the different needs and ways to engage Appalachian students in our region.”

To learn more about Swartzwelder’s research, contact her at