Master of Arts in Higher Education (MAHE) Theses

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

Jeff Cramer

Second Advisor

C. Skip Trudeau

Third Advisor

Scott Moeschberger


Leading the United States of America in cell phone use are American college students, of whom 94% have a cell phone, 85% use text messaging, and 75% send texts every day (Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education, 2008). This study utilized a phenomenological qualitative methodology to examine the effects of cellular telephones on college student involvement, based on Alexander Astin’s (1986) theory of involvement. Seven participants from a small, residential university in the Midwest participated in the study and shared their lived experiences as college student cell phone users living on a cell phone-saturated campus. The results of this study indicated that cell phones positively promote face-to-face out-of-class student involvement with other college students, increase students’ likelihood of participating in on-campus programs, but are unlikely to facilitate involvement with faculty. Furthermore, the findings indicated that participants were dissatisfied with the quantity of interactions cell phones provided, and resented and blamed cell phones for the lack of quality relationships they have with others. Nevertheless, participants emphasized their perception of cell phones was mostly positive, even though they frequently described the devices’ undesired and harmful effects, believing cell phones are necessary in order to stay socially connected and informed.