Bring Us Souvenirs from Paris! Part 1

Tonight’s blogs are brought to you by my professor’s trip to Paris.  Our assignment is to blog about two articles from 2014, unrelated to our field of research.  Therefore, I bring you Part 1 of a 2-part series of blogs (you can find Part Deux here).

This is the first intriguing article I found: What else do college students “do” while studying? An investigation of multitasking.

In this study, Calderman, et al. (2014) looked at the effects of self-efficacy and task motivation to participate in distracting media use (e.g., cell phones, social media, music) while completing homework assignments outside of class.  On average, over the course of a 3-hour study session, students spent an aggregated 25 minutes engaging in multitasking/distracting behaviors and 73 minutes listening to music while completing homework assignments.  As would likely be expected, higher levels of self-efficacy and task motivation were associated with less multimedia use while studying; in layman’s terms, those who were more inclined to finish their homework were less distracted by their cell phones.  Fatigue was also linked to longer durations of indulging in distracting endeavors, meaning that the more weary the student, the longer he or she allowed themselves to be distracted.

In order to record the students’ level of distraction, the authors used surveillance cameras positioned in a controlled environment to monitor the students.  The level of distraction caused by these cameras was shown to be minimal (Calderman, et al., 2014).  However, I find this to be surprising; here are two of the recording devices used in the study:


(Calderman, et al., 2014)


(Calderman, et al., 2014)

Pictured above: not as distracting as Facebook.


17 thoughts on “Bring Us Souvenirs from Paris! Part 1

  1. I love the pictures, it really made it so much easier to visualize the methodology. And the results are not surprising, “higher levels of self-efficacy and task motivation were associated with less multimedia use while studying”. But I was just wondering, have you ever heard from your friends that they cannot do homework without listening to music? I am wondering why and what happened?
    And this method of capturing the amount of distraction I thought is really brilliant as it is very objective. But I assume this also limited there sample size?

    Liked by 1 person

    • When the abstract said the authors used head-mounted cameras, I immediately started wishing for a detailed description — the pictures were a much-appreciated surprise! So even before I began writing up my summary of the article, I knew I was going to include those pictures. lol.

      And I have had friends who told me they couldn’t study without music or background noise — I thought about them when reading this article and wondered about that effect, too.

      As for sample size, it was fairly decent, especially considering all of the apparatus they had to attach to people; 60 undergrads participated in the study.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Bring Us Souvenirs from Paris! Part Deux | Bama Boilermaker

  3. I definitely think I was more distracted by other things during my undergrad. The feeling of urgency and lots to get done keeps me focused in grad school. However, I do listen to music pretty much 100% of the time when I am working on homework. Though my music is always instrumental. Increases memory right?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. One thing that the study findings’ which grabbed me is the used of multimedia while competing a task. The study said that higher level of self-efficacy and task motivation were associated with less multimedia while studying. I have been having problems doing assignment on my computer. There are just way too many distractions and opportunities to get myself distracted. But, if we complete most of our assignments on computer, how do you avoid being distracted ?


    • I actually found another study I had wanted to share that speaks to this somewhat. Although it had nothing to do with social media, it discussed distraction in the classroom. A class of kindergarteners was found to be more distracted in a classroom with lots of wall decorations than in a classroom with bare walls. As with the Internet, all of that visual stimulation makes for distracted students!


  5. I can definitely related to the portion about being fatigued and being more likely to succumb to distraction. Sometimes when you’ve been doing the same task for so long, ANY distraction is like a cold glass of ice water in hell – refreshing. I’d be interested to see how small breaks in long tasks affect the quality of work. Sure, it might take longer because you don’t have your nose to the grindstone the whole time, but sometimes you just need to step away, or let your mind wander for a second.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Small breaks definitely help to make you retain information better. It’s like with studying for an exam — looking at the material in short spurts over a period of days is better than cramming in a couple of hours of study time at a single interval.

      Thanks for reading! 🙂


  6. Pingback: The Final Step | My initials are J.Z.

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