Just Do It...And It, Too: Multitasking and Attention in Young Adult College Students

Cassidy Tiberi Butler University, Justin Contreras Butler University
Faculty Sponsor(s): Tara Lineweaver Butler University, Suneeta Kercood Butler University
As multitasking becomes increasingly prevalent in academic settings, it is important to build our understanding of factors that might influence the effect multitasking has on academic performance. The purpose of this study is to investigate college students' subjective self-perceptions of their multitasking abilities and to compare these self-perceptions to objective measures of multitasking and to both objective and subjective measures of attention and working memory. After providing informed consent, 13 undergraduate students (ages 18-23; 92% white; 62% female) underwent an individual testing session lasting approximately 90 minutes. Students completed a short demographic questionnaire, a self-report of their own subjective multitasking abilities, and a measure of their subjective attention. The subjective multitasking questionnaire consisted of items drawn from several inventories and measured: self-reported (1) multitasking in class, (2) multitasking while completing homework, (3) multitasking when studying, (4) multitasking when studying for a critical exam, (5) tendency to be easily distracted from studying and (6) preference for multitasking versus focusing on one task at a time. The test battery also included objective tests of multitasking and working memory. Our results suggest that students who multitask in their everyday lives also perform better on an objective test of their multitasking abilities, perhaps because they practice task switching on a daily basis. Students with better working memory skills also outperformed their peers on the objective multitasking measure. Thus, in the age of technology when multitasking is common, both practice and good working memory skills may contribute to young adults’ success in academic settings.
Oral Presentation

When & Where

09:00 AM
Pharmacy & Health Sciences 156