Description: So here’s an interesting challenge. Go to the article linked below and, before you start reading it, remove all distractors from around you, and I mean all. Mute your phone, turn off the radio, turn off the television, do not check email, do nothing else except focusing and reading the article linked below. Once you’re done, think about whether that experience was different, better, worse, and if you’d read it with all of your usual distractions and place.
Source: Read This Story Without Distraction (Can You?). Verena von Pfetten, New York Times.
Date: April 29, 2016
If you have had to put a resume together lately there is a virtual certainty that somewhere in that resume you claimed the ability to multitask. In fact, if one were to claim to be a mono-tasker, one would risk coming across as slow, ponderous, and just plain boring. However, there is increasing concern within cognitive psychology that we may actually be pushing the limits of our ability to manage multiple streams of information simultaneously and cope with an array of distracting sensory inputs in ways that potentially are having negative impacts upon our ability to process and manage and even to benefit from the information that we are supposedly tracking.
Questions for Discussion:
- What is mono-tasking and how does it differ from multitasking?
- What are some of the consequences of multitasking?
- What sort of things ought we to be thinking about both individually and within educational settings and workplace settings in relation to whether or not we insist that people attempt to engage in multitasking on a regular basis? How might we decide when mono-tasking is exactly what we should be doing?
References (Read Further):
Altmann, E. M., Trafton, J. G., & Hambrick, D. Z. (2014). Momentary interruptions can derail the train of thought. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 143(1), 215. http://www.msu.edu/~ema/AltmannTraftonHambrickJEPG.pdf
Ophir, E., Nass, C., & Wagner, A. D. (2009). Cognitive control in media multitaskers. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 106(37), 15583-15587. https://184.108.40.206/divisions/hcs/seminars/cogsciseminars/Papers/Ophir_Nass_Wagner_2009.pdf
Mark, Gloria, Iqbal, Shamsi T., Czerwinski, Mary, Johns, Paul, Sano, Akane (2016) Neurotics Can’t Focus: An in situ Study of Online Multitasking in the Workplace, CHI’16, May 07-12, 2016, San Jose, CA, USA. http://www.ics.uci.edu/~gmark/Home_page/Research_files/CHI%2016%20Multitasking%20and%20Focus.pdf