Torey L. Van Norman, Fielding's School of Educational Leadership & Change
This study sought to determine the effects of media multitasking on students while they are doing school work, while also investigating student perceptions of how media multitasking affects their academic performance. I designed a quasi-experimental study, conducted with students ages 15-18 in a high school English classroom, in which students studied while media multitasking. I measured recall of reading material without and with media distraction and used qualitative and quantitative analysis to examine the data. A study habits survey, a student attitudinal survey, and interviews added additional data about the study. Media use while studying had a negative effect on student performance (i.e., test scores) and length of time needed to take the tests, but not on reading time with media. On test scores both without and with media, males generally scored better than females; however, mean testing time with media was longer for both males and females. The performance of “heavy multitaskers” versus “light multitaskers” was also examined. The qualitative data revealed several effects of media-multitasking including: distraction, aversion to silence, preference for types of media used, and general enjoyment of media use while studying.
Key Words: media multitasking, studying with media, task switching, distraction, attention