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ERIC Number: ED545483
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2012
Pages: 150
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: 978-1-2675-7294-3
College Students' Attention Behaviors during Independent Study and Course Level Academic Performance
Wagner, Linda G.
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, Seattle Pacific University
Students in college make daily choices about how to use their independent study time, including choices about allocation of attention. Based on theoretical considerations and clinical studies, attention and the dividing of attention through multitasking is thought to have a relationship to performance levels. Research is only beginning to explore, however, college students' actual attention-related behaviors during independent study and the relationship of those attention behaviors to academic outcomes. This study, carried out in the college context as lived by students, gathered data on undergraduate students' attention-dividing activities during independent study and then investigated the relationship between those attention-related activities and academic performance at the course level. Exam scores were categorized so that potential differences in performance on recall questions versus those requiring flexible or application use of information could be evaluated. Students from four general education courses participated in this correlational, exploratory study (N = 95). On average they engaged in about eleven interruptions to focused attention on course content in a forty-five minute independent study period, with the median being eight off-task attention behaviors. Only texting was consistently, significantly negatively correlated with academic outcomes in the primary analyses. Additional analyses based on numbers of attention-dividing activities one week versus two weeks prior to the exam found significant, negative relationships between some of the other attention-dividing activities and academic outcomes for a subset of students. Relationships between attentional control and attention behaviors while studying and attentional control and academic outcomes were also measured. Self-perceived attentional control and level of attention-dividing activity during study were negatively correlated, signifying that lower perceived levels of attentional control related to higher engagement in attention-dividing activities while studying outside of class. While in no way conclusive, this exploratory research adds to growing evidence that some but not all attention-dividing activities while studying may have a negative relationship to academic performance for students in the college learning context. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
ProQuest LLC. 789 East Eisenhower Parkway, P.O. Box 1346, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. Tel: 800-521-0600; Web site:
Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A