|Synergy is the national peer-reviewed online journal of the Association for the Tutoring Profession published annually in the fall and spring. The primary mission of the journal is to provide an avenue for scholarship and discussion, which furthers the knowledge of learning processes, tutoring practice, and the administration of tutoring services.|
|Does Multitasking Interfere with Learning? C. M. Dzubak, Ph.D.|
Multitasking is generally assumed to increase our productivity. But, does it? During the past decade an increasing amount of research has examined various aspects of multitasking, including the differences between sequential and simultaneous processing, divided attention, continuous partial attention, and task switching (Abate, C., 2008; Applebaum, S. and Marchonni, A., 2008; Ben-Shakhar, G. and Sheffer, L., 2001; Delbridge, K., 2001; Dux, P., Tombu, M., Harrison, S., Rogers, B., Tong, F. and Marois, R., 2009; Konig, C., Buhner, M., Murling, F., 2005; Loose, R., Kaufmann, C., Auer, D., Lange, K., 2003; Naveh-Benjamin, M, Craik, F. I. M., Perretta, J. G., Tonev, S. T., 2000; Stone, L., 2007). There continues to be a variety of approaches taken when researching multitasking, some describing its advantages while others claiming it has a negative impact on nearly all that we do.
A review of the literature helps in sorting through what sometimes appears to be occasional conflicting findings. This article addresses the differences between sequential and simultaneous processing, the impact of divided attention on encoding, task completion, retention, and information retrieval, all of which are necessary in order to acquire knowledge. Depth of processing is an important variable in this discussion because our brains respond differently to simplistic vs. complex information and tasks. As noted by Applebaum and Marchonni (2008), “Multitasking behavior needs to be understood in the context of its manifestation as a variable that is at least partially dependent on the existence of relatively ‘cheap’ information” (p. 1313). Conceptual information, or “expensive” information, requires a considerably deeper level of processing. Doing several things quickly is certainly not the same as learning them well.
|Attention, Reflection and Distraction: The Impact of Technology on Learning Jim Valkenburg, Delta College
Over the centuries, humans have developed a series of technologies that have had a profound impact on our ability to learn from the environment and to devise strategies that will enhance our ability to transmit what we have learned and to survive. Literacy enhanced the human ability to think creatively and critically—to be able to think both inductively (bottom-up) and deductively (top-down). The key: the ability to pay close attention to what one is learning and to later reflect on what has been learned. The technologies developed over the past seventy years have begun to change the way we learn, think and understand the world—they have distracted the brain with a constant stream of visual stimuli and information that has diminished the ability of the individual to process information deeply and to later use remembered information in a novel way. The technology has changed our ability to focus and attend to what we want to learn. It has altered the way we remember and the way we reflect on information. The immediacy of the technology has distracted us and has forged a new foundation that leaves us in need of a reasoned and critical examination of the technological environment that seems to undermine many aspects of thought and memory.