The Effects of Multitasking on Learning

multitask2When today’s students are studying, it’s common for them to also be texting, emailing, and posting on Facebook and other social media sites. And while is the social and emotional world young people live in today, scientists and educators are concerned that multitasking while learning can put students at a disadvantage.

Evidence from psychology, cognitive science, and neuroscience suggests that when students multitask while doing schoolwork, their learning is far spottier and shallower than if the work had their full attention. They understand and remember less, and they have greater difficulty transferring their learning to new contexts.

That is because these multitasking operations are actually quite mentally complex. They draw on the same mental resources—using language, parsing meaning—demanded by schoolwork. Under most conditions, the brain simply can’t do two complex tasks at the same time, unless the two tasks are both very simple and don’t compete with each other for the same mental resources. But if someone is listening to a lecture while texting, they are engaging in two very demanding tasks, each of which uses the prefrontal cortex of the brain.

Researchers offer this bit of advice if you have a multitasking student:

Do 15 uninterrupted minutes of homework. Then take a “tech break”—two minutes to text, check websites and post on social media to satisfy the craving for electronic communication. Then it’s back to the homework for another 15 minutes.

Optiminds offers customized tutoring programs for students, including students who are home schooled. We have earned a reputation for helping to improve the study, reading, math and cognitive skills of students of all ages. Learn more about us by calling us today at (248) 496-0150 or by visiting us at:


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