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ERIC Number: EJ934195
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011-Jun
Pages: 13
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 38
ISSN: ISSN-1076-898X
Mitigating Disruptive Effects of Interruptions through Training: What Needs to Be Practiced?
Cades, David M.; Boehm-Davis, Deborah A.; Trafton, J. Gregory; Monk, Christopher A.
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, v17 n2 p97-109 Jun 2011
It is generally accepted that, with practice, people improve on most tasks. However, when tasks have multiple parts, it is not always clear what aspects of the tasks practice or training should focus on. This research explores the features that allow training to improve the ability to resume a task after an interruption, specifically focusing on task-specific versus general interruption/resumption-process mechanisms that could account for improved performance. Three experiments using multiple combinations of primary tasks and interruptions were conducted with undergraduate psychology students. The first experiment showed that for one primary and interruption task-pair, people were able to resume the primary task faster when they had previous practice with the interruption. The second experiment replicated this finding for two other sets of primary and interruption task-pairs. Finally, the third experiment showed that people were able to resume a primary task faster only when they had previous practice with that specific primary and interruption task-pair. Experience with other primary and interruption task-pairs, or practice on the primary task alone, did not facilitate resumption. This suggests that a critical component in resuming after an interruption is the relationship between two tasks. These findings are in line with a task-specific mechanism of resumption and incompatible with a general-process mechanism. These findings have practical implications for developing training programs and mitigation strategies to lessen the disruptive effects of interruptions which plague both our personal and professional environments. (Contains 6 figures and 3 tables.)
American Psychological Association. Journals Department, 750 First Street NE, Washington, DC 20002-4242. Tel: 800-374-2721; Tel: 202-336-5510; Fax: 202-336-5502; 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: Virginia