Why Multitasking Doesn’t Work? - Deepstash
Why Multitasking Doesn’t Work?

Why Multitasking Doesn’t Work?

“Heavy multitaskers are actually worse at multitasking than most people.”

Experiment - cognitive & memory tasks with distraction:

  • Self-described multitaskers performed much worse than people who preferred to focus on single tasks.
  • Multitaskers couldn’t perform better on any elements of the test
  • Maybe chronic multitaskers are hyperdistractible people, but there’re worries that media multitasking might actually be destroying students’ capacity for reasoning

-> debate: should laptops be allowed in classrooms?

Attention:

  • is generated by conscious effort
  • is an unwilled effect of outside forces.

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Avoid Distraction!

Experiment:

  • distraction during learning can be harmful, even if the distraction doesn’t seem to harm students’ immediate performance on their tasks
  • when they were asked afterward to describe the general rules for that trial, they did much worse
  • distracted-> they learned through a half-conscious system of “habit memory,”
  • when they were undistracted, they used the declarative-memory system (information is then more flexible—people are more likely to be able to draw analogies and extrapolate from it)

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How to Learn Something Faster?

Our working-memory capacity:

  • is limited to 7 units or fewer
  • anxiousness/ fatigue/ presence of an attractive stranger -> even less

How to maximize it?

  • You can  “chunk” information -> you can pack more material into one of those 7 units. (E.g. at the beginning to learn a code: each dit, dash = a separate chunk-> later already letters as chunks-> words ->whole phrases)
  • You can also manage attention so that unwanted stimuli do not crowd the working memory.

Attention & distraction are entangled in:

  • reasoning,
  • working memory
  • in the encoding of information into long-term memory.

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Keep Your Attention

A simple retention of the information that is provided to you isn’t enough. You’d like to see some evidence that you can use information in new ways.

That’s why-> single-minded attention is vital to learning

The best environment for learning:

  • do not taking notes, or else you’re going to miss something
  • multitasking degrades performance, even under optimal conditions, it takes a lot of time for the brain to switch from one goal to another, and from one set of rules to another
  • a switching time cost & those extra time costs quickly add up

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