Study finds multitasking increases in online courses compared to face-to-face

phys.org | 2/14/2019 | Staff
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Kent State University Professor Andrew Lepp, Ph.D., remembers the incident well.

About two years ago on campus, he encountered a student entering data into a spreadsheet using a desktop computer. Next to the desktop computer, the student had a laptop computer open with Netflix streaming. Beside the laptop was the student's smartphone, which the student was listening to through a pair of wired headphones. Being curious about the simultaneous use of three screens, Dr. Lepp asked the student what she was listening to on the headphones.

Biology - Course - Student - Dr - Lepp

"Oh, that's my online biology course," the student replied to Dr. Lepp's complete amazement.

This phenomenon of multitasking across three or four internet-connected devices simultaneously is increasingly common. Dr. Lepp and his colleagues Jacob Barkley, Ph.D., and Aryn Karpinski, Ph.D., of Kent State's College of Education, Health and Human Services were curious to know how often this happens during online education, a method of delivering college and even high school courses entirely via an internet-connected computer as opposed to a traditional face-to-face course with a teacher physically present.

Nationwide - Millions - Students - Courses - Year

Nationwide, millions of students take online courses each year, and the trend is increasing rapidly. Dr. Lepp and his colleagues wondered if students multitask more frequently in online courses compared to face-to-face courses.

"This question is important to ask because an abundance of research demonstrates that multitasking during educational activities significantly reduces learning," Dr. Lepp said.

Dr - Lepp - Dr - Barkley - Dr

Dr. Lepp, Dr. Barkley and Dr. Karpinski, along with the help of Kent State graduate student Shweta Singh, surveyed 296 college students. Each student surveyed had recently completed an online, for-credit college course and a traditional face-to-face college course. The survey asked students how often they participated in common multitasking behaviors during their previously taken online courses as well as their previous face-to-face courses. These behaviors included texting, using social networking apps, emailing, off-task internet surfing,...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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