Degree Year


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Committee Member(s)

Nancy Darling, Chair
Paul H. Thibodeau
Albert L. Porterfield


Task-switching, Learning, Classroom, Social media


The current study builds upon earlier work exploring task switching, learning, and interruption by expanding the timeline to discuss more complex tasks over longer periods. For a student to learn successfully, they must pay attention to the right information. The current study explores how pre-learning conditions affect academic performance by directing attention toward or away from the task. Methods: College undergraduates (N = 62) completed two sessions over two consecutive days. The goal of Session 1 was to both observe baseline distraction and learning. Notes for Session 2 were also pulled from Session 1. The goal of Session 2 was to observe differences in learning based on ten-minute pre-lecture conditions: social media usage (n = 22), notes reviewing (n = 21), and control (n = 19). In both sessions, participants were tested on learning after watching a lecture video. Note reviewing was expected to positively impact learning and social media engagement was expected to negatively impact learning due to how cognitively similar or dissimilar they were to the lecture material. Effects were expected to be most visible at the beginning of the lecture and possibly continue throughout. Social media engagement was also expected to increase attentional disruption and off-task social media usage. Results: Though the findings did show a pattern, with social media participants going off task more frequently than the others, there was no significant difference between conditions in distraction, scores during the experimental session, or duration of test-taking. Conclusions: Possible explanations and implications ranging from lack of motivation and attention to the habitual power of social media are considered in light of the previous task-switching, interruption, and interference literature.

Included in

Psychology Commons