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ERIC Number: EJ1069247
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2015
Pages: 15
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-1449-3098 (Discontinued)
EISSN: EISSN-1449-5554
Task Selection, Task Switching and Multitasking during Computer-Based Independent Study
Judd, Terry
Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, v31 n2 193-207 2015
Detailed logs of students' computer use, during independent study sessions, were captured in an open-access computer laboratory. Each log consisted of a chronological sequence of tasks representing either the application or the Internet domain displayed in the workstation's active window. Each task was classified using a three-tier schema according to its likely context of use: The top-level categories being "Academic", "Communication", "Information", "Recreation" and "Applications". Students switched tasks frequently--median task duration was only 31 seconds. Approximately 30% of all tasks were Academic with the majority of these involving the university's learning management system. "Communication" and "Recreation" tasks accounted for 18% and 9% of tasks respectively. Up to one half of all tasks were not related to study. Multitasking was very common during independent study sessions, particularly when "Communication" tasks were active. This study confirms that students are likely to regularly switch tasks, attend to distracting tasks, and multitask during independent study. Each one of these behaviours has the potential to negatively impact on students' learning, and when combined they indicate that students are relatively inefficient at managing competing tasks and their time when studying.
Australasian Society for Computers in Learning in Tertiary Education. Ascilite Secretariat, P.O. Box 44, Figtree, NSW, Australia. Tel: +61-8-9367-1133; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Australia
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A