College Students: Media-Savvy Multitaskers or Scatterbrained Procrastinators?
Current research on digital multi-tasking among college
students provides conflicting results about the effects that constant attention
to digital devices has on their cognitive abilities. A 2009 study by Ophir,
Nass, and Wegner compared “heavy media multitaskers” with others who relied on
multitasking less frequently. The study
concluded that heavy multitaskers were less successful at filtering
distractions and switching between tasks.
However, a 2013 study by Alzahabi and Becker suggests the opposite. This research raises important questions
about how we engage our students in the kind of work we typically assign - work
that requires sustained focus and attention.
Should students be working to adapt to the academy or should the academy
adapt to them?