03 Academics

Academics in the age of distractions

As you are reading this you are likely distracting yourself. You may have read that people  are not good at multitasking. Still, you work to disprove that science daily. If you are like me, you have two browsers open with at least 20 tabs. While you are reading you may be toggling between apps on your phone, texting, and double-tapping an Instagram post.

Does this mean that the process of learning differs from previous generations? Yes and No.

Yes. Blasiman, Larabee, and Fabry (2018) studied the effect of six distractions on learning (folding laundry, playing a computer video game, texting on a cell phone, engaging in conversation, watching a low-arousal video, and watching a high-arousal video). Students were asked to learn a task while distracted. Then they were tested on what they learned. How do you think they performed compared to when not-distracted?

They scored as low as 62% and as high as 87% on tests. Think about it. A brilliant learner demonstrates only 62% of his or her ability when distracted.

No. There have always been distractions to learning. The tonic for distractions has always been concentration on one task. When it comes to learning in the age of distractions, the formula is simple. Reduce distractions and increase concentration.