Over the last few lectures we have been considering curriculum, learning, memory and working memory. We learned that the more you have in your background memory the more you will remember when you learn some new things, and the easier it will be for you to learn new things. According to psychologists, and psychological memory models, we have a working memory that we use when we are perceiving things around us (or learning new information). We take what we are learning from the environment, and make sense of those perceptions by drawing on our background knowledge. In other words, new information along with background knowledge are placed in working memory so that we can work with that.
You probably know that one of the issues we face as students and teachers is that when we are distracted, we don’t remember what we are learning, and we won’t learn well. Multi tasking is distracting. Unfortunately, there has been a narrative that suggests that people can multi task. There is even a narrative that many people believe that suggests that young people are able to multi task better that older people.
But is multi-tasking really a problem? Can’t we learn to multi-task?
The research show that people don’t really multi-task well. Our brain doesn’t really do two tasks at the same time. Rather, it switches back and forth. And, as a result, there are always things going on that students aren’t aware of as soon as they switch to another task–whether it is listening to some music, opening a social media app, texting, or thinking about something different. The result is not remembering as much, and not learning as much.
For you as a student, this is a problem. When you are a teacher, this will be a problem for your students.
Today we will try to develop a better understanding of how multi-tasking (or task switching) is detrimental to learning.
We attend to one thing or another. We don’t attend to (or pay attention to) two things at the same time.
We can feel our attention shift from the faces to the vase.
Learning and memory. Hmmmm. I wonder what attention has to do with memory?
Effects of Multitasking
Willingham says our short term memory has a small capacity. Does this say anything about multitasking?
The Myth of Multitasking Test (NEW)
Why the Human Brain Can’t Multitask
Can You Really Multitask?
Digital Lives – The Science Behind Multitasking
Fourth Question Set Continued
Question 16: Even though many people believe that they can multi-task (task-switch) well, why is multi-tasking actually a detriment to learning?
Inattentional Blindness. Really?
Perhaps you have seen just how selective your attention is.
Joanne Cantor: What Research Says about Multitasking
Can You Get Through This Multitasking Test?
Peter Doolittle: How your “working memory” makes sense of the world
Question 17: What effect does multi-tasking or task-switching have on one’s working memory?
How you can become a better student
Now that we have seen how task switching leads to poorer learning gains, let me share with you two videos that could have a significant different on how well you do in university. By applying some of these techniques, you can easily raise your grade point average significantly.
How to Use the Feynman Technique – Study Tips – How to Study
Question 18: In one or two paragraphs, please explain how you could incorporate the Feynman Technique for learning and understanding the content for one of your classes? List the steps you could use.
Question 19: If you were a classroom teacher, using the advice from the video above, what are three things you could tell your students to do to study smart?
I hope you feel as though you know a bit more about multi-tasking, working memory, and studying than you did before.
Study smart, and have a great day!