Blog post

ELS educational myths (3)

Published on
March 6, 2019

We are very good in multi- tasking. True or false?

I often say to myself that I am very good in multi-tasking.

At the moment of writing this column, I do watch the mail on my phone, I have some documents on a project in Palestine to asses on my desk, my mind thinks about what to cook tonight, and I am thinking about my programme of tomorrow, to mention some of my actual activities.

My excuse is: I like to do many things at the time, otherwise I get bored. I must feel the energy in switching from one task to the other and back, that is efficient and effective.

Students tell me the same: they can listen to my presentation, do my (group) exercises and look at their social media ........(sorry, wait a second, a new mail is coming, I have to check)....and chat with their neighbours.

And, even better: women are better than men in multi-tasking.

However, Paul Kirschner (professor from the Dutch open University) indicates that research has many times shown that multi-tasking leads to loss of concentration, longer time investments in your activities and worse results.

Research has shown that multi-tasking during learning processes leads to lower ability to apply what has been learned, and more difficulties to recall what has been taught.

And unfortunately this is not only valid for the older generations, but also for generations that have grown up with multi-media.

Click here for the conclusion

My personal conclusion:

If students do multi task during my courses I:
- Am giving too much time for the exercises
- Am giving too much information in relation to the assessment later
- Am telling things that students can also read later in much less time - Or am dealing with a topich which they find not interesting or they do not see the use of

Conclusion: It is a myth that we are good in multitasking !

Next time another myth: 93 % of our communication is non-verbal