The Repository @ St. Cloud State

Open Access Knowledge and Scholarship

Date of Award


Culminating Project Type


Degree Name

Higher Education Administration: Ed.D.


Educational Administration and Higher Education


School of Education

First Advisor

Rachel Friedensen

Second Advisor

Jennifer Jones

Third Advisor

Rysavy, Sister Del Marie

Fourth Advisor

Andrew Anda

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Keywords and Subject Headings

Perceptions, Mobile devices, Engagement Theory, Learning Engagement


The use of mobile devices in the college classroom can enhance learning engagement, leading to enhanced learning outcomes. There is scant research on college student perceptions of learning engagement using mobile devices in the classroom. The purpose of this qualitative research was to explores upper-class undergraduate computer science college students’ perceptions about their use of mobile devices in the classroom. Research questions were designed to explore how college students believe their classroom engagement is impacted by mobile device technology use. The theory of engagement, including intellectual, social, and behavioral components, served as the theoretical framework. This research applies interpretative phenomenological analysis to explore how interviewees made sense of the observation. The sample included 11 upper-class undergraduate students in a computer science course at a Minnesota university. Transcripts were coded in NVivo 12, and analysis of the interview responses reveal three themes: Making the Most of Mobile Devices for Academic Purposes, Mobile Device Use Improves Social Interaction with Classmates, and Using Mobile Devices Improves Motivation Through Greater Engagement. Interviewees used mobile devices for class purposes, inside and outside of the classroom, and for synchronous and asynchronous online classes. Interviewees reported avoiding distractions and using their mobile devices to enhance learning; overall, they reported better learning experiences with mobile devices. Practical implications of this research include training for instructors and developing guidelines for recommended uses of mobile device technology. Theoretical implications include that behavioral engagement may need to be redefined for college students. Recommendations for further research include theoretical research on behavioral control and identifying a more suitable engagement component than behavioral for college student engagement models, because behavioral engagement may not be as relevant to college students as it is to K-12 students.


This dissertation is dedicated to my wife, Andjela, to my kids Stefan and Annamaria Milica Tomovic. You motivated me to keep pushing for my dreams. To my parents, Ruzica and Milutin Tomovic, Marija and Djordje Nikolica, thank you for providing me a safe and prosperous childhood. I want to thank those I met during this journey. Thank you, Dr. Steven McCullar, for motivating me to move on with my educational goals. Thank you Dr. Friedensen for challenging me to become better writer, academic, and educational professional. I also want to thank my committee members, Dr. Anda, Dr. Jones, Dr. Rysavy. You provided me with amazing guidance and mentorship, and thanks to you I learned to look at the world through different lenses. Your constant encouragement inspired me to keep going. Finally, I want to thank to my Cohort 11 – my friends, for inspiration and pushing me to keep climbing and conquer the highest peaks of life.



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