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Attention Spans And Multi-Tasking Use of Technology

Susan D'Agostino, mathematics professor at Souther New Hampshire University, implemented a rigid rule: No electronic devices allowed during her class except calculators. Later, she did an informal survey on her student's use of electronic devices in their other college classes.

The results are interesting:

  • 100% of the students had used a laptop, phone, or digital music device during a class
  • Students with an open laptop in a 75-minute class spent equal time taking electronic notes and social networking (35 minutes +- 5 minutes)
  • In a 75-minute class, students spent 36 minutes looking at websites relevant to the class and 68 minutes looking at irrelevant websites
  • In a 75 minute class, students with open laptops spent 27 minutes on their e-mail/facebook and 11 minutes reading an electronic newspaper
  • 58% of the students did at least one of these online tasks, while listening to the lecture or participating in a discussion
  • 46% of the students multi-tasked by engaging in two-four online tasks, while listening to the lecture or participating in a discussion
  • 2 % of the students claimed they engaged in five activities in addition to the lesson--social networking, instant messaging, searching on-line, playing games, and texting
Yet, D'Agostino discovered that 94% of her students stated they either favored or were neutral regarding her ban of electronic devices in her own math classroom (statistics).

Finally, research sponsored by the Kaiser Family Foundation has shown that an average 18-year-old spends 7 hours daily using electronic devices for recreational purposes....and I am sure this number has increased over the past year.

Sorry, just sharing some statistics...no question to pose. I am too busy multi-tasking!

Source: S. D'Agostino, "Facebook and Texting vs. Textbooks and Faces," Math Horizons, Sep 2010