Multitasking: An equal opportunity distraction

New Michigan State University research finds multitasking can hurt classroom performance by students
  • Bob Brown (Network World)
  • 19 June, 2014 01:37

Even the strongest students can be no match for the distractions of multitasking, according to new research from Michigan State University.

Researchers, funded by the National Science Foundation, took a look at the impact of fiddling with smartphones and laptops among 500 student during lectures and found that non-academic Internet use (responding to email, checking Facebook updates, etc.)  hurts classroom content retention.

"Students of all intellectual abilities should be responsible for not letting themselves be distracted by use of the Internet," said Susan Ravizza, associate professor of psychology and lead investigator on the study, in a statement. The thesis that only those students with lower ACT scores would be distracted proved wrong, as all students's exam scores suffered when they allowed themselves to be distracted by the Internet during class.

+ Also on NetworkWorld:13 of today's coolest network and computing research projects+

Ravizza suggested that Internet use might be a different and more engaging flavor of multitasking than other activity juggling.

The big question of course is what to do about all this, since banning electronic devices from lecture halls is challenging, especially when the gadgets do serve the purpose of delivering emergency information.

What's more, Apple is actually improving the multitasking capabilities of its devices via the latest iOS update. Who would want that to go to waste?