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Ensure Students Avoid Multi-tasking


Study Skills & Tools Social-Emotional Learning All Ages Strategy


Organization Working Memory Attention Processing Speed

Ensure Students Avoid Multi-tasking

All students, but particularly those with weak attention or working memory

Teach It!

  1. Objective: Students will increase efficiency and be more effective in studying when they eliminate competing distractions and avoid multi-tasking.
  2. Organization: Have students create an organized desk and homework space for themselves, including removing anything unnecessary that could become a distraction.
  3. Effective Plans: Teach students to use outlines, project plans, or checklists before starting to help them stay on task. Have them check off steps as they finish. A nightly homework plan could include short breaks for social media or texting so they are less tempted to check during work.
  4. Quiet Environment: Encourage students to work in spaces away from background noises, such as television, loud music, or family conversations. Turn off cell phones or other devices! Allow for soft background music which can be neutral or even helpful.
  5. Teachers Notes: Tools such as Rescue Time can help students become aware of how they are managing their time, and if there are extra apps that are distracting them.

*print* Student Checklist: Organize Before Studying

  1. Set up a quiet space away from family conversations, TV or other possible distractions.
  2. Prepare any necessary materials at your desk (paper, pens, pencils, erasers, ruler, calculator, reference books, fidget toys and a charger).
  3. Remove items that are not homework-related from your desk.
  4. Turn off your cell phone and commit to not texting or communicating with friends, unless it is a question about homework. In that case, use a time limit so you don't get off track.
  5. Turn off all applications on your computer, except for the one you are using.

Why It Works (the Science Of Learning)!

Overall greater effort is needed to learn the information when students are switching back and forth between tasks. Multi-tasking decreases working efficiency and leads to increased mistakes because students are not processing information in-depth. Also, breaking up tasks with unnecessary distractions negatively impacts the way students encode information into long-term memory. Research on the effects of technology and learning are still new, but do show multi-tasking leading to shallow information processing behaviors characterized by rapid attention shifting and reduced deliberations that affect deeper learning.