DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) -- During lectures, they answer their cell phones, text message their friends and play games on their laptop computers.
Are college students really that rude?
Yes, they are. The last time I gave a talk on meditation to a college class I swore I'd never go back. I was simply gobsmacked.
Yes, says Delaney Kirk, a professor of management at Drake University in Des Moines.
But, she adds, it's not their fault.
"It's the same behavior we're seeing in the rest of society," Kirk says. "There's a general lack of social skills."
Sparked by her own experience with distracted students, Kirk has become something of an expert on managing such behavior. She hosts workshops around the country, helping faculty deal with what she says has become a problem at campuses large and small.
Part of the problem is the lure of the techno-gadgets that students bring into the classroom -- cell phones, Blackberries and laptop computers.
"Students think they can e-mail, text message, check the Web and listen to you, and they can't," Kirk says.
Here's the conclusion:
Kirk first began thinking about students' manners six years ago.
"I had this one class where students were sleeping, talking to each other and cheating ..." she says. "First, I whined to my colleagues, but then I said, 'You're teaching management, you need to manage this."'
She says her lessons extend beyond the classroom.
"It's better to learn it here than to show up for work late the first week and get fired," she says. "These are good students. There is just a lack of what's appropriate and what's professional. It's about developing some good habits."
Ah, well done Professor Kirk. May your tribe increase.