Multi-Tasking = Epic Fail: Students Who Text Message During Class Show Impaired Comprehension of Lecture Material
Midwest Institute for Students and Teachers of Psychology 2011
For the unit on divided attention in my Cognitive Processes course, I created a demonstration in which half of the class is randomly assigned to text message each other while I lecture on time management strategies. The other half of the class does not text message during the lecture. Following the 10-minute lecture, all students complete a multiple-choice quiz. Results from 67 students over the past three semesters show that, in their proportion of answers correct, the Text condition performed statistically significantly worse on the quiz (M = .602, SD = .238) than did those in the No Text condition (M = .793, SD = .156), t (65) = 3.84, p < .001. This suggests that text messaging during lecture impairs comprehension of the material, which is consistent with the findings that people rely on inflexible memory systems while multi-tasking, which can impair learning (Foerder, Knowlton, & Poldrack, 2006), and that people lose time when switching from one task to another, especially when the tasks are complex or unfamiliar (Rubinstein, Meyer, & Evans, 2001).
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Poster – Midwest Institute for Students and Teachers of Psychology 2011