CCE Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Computing Technology in Education (DCTE)


College of Engineering and Computing


Laurie P. Dringus

Committee Member

Steven R. Terrell

Committee Member

Martha M. Snyder


Classroom learning, Distraction, Divided attention, Human-computer-interface, Multitasking, Task-switching


The growing use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in college campuses has dramatically increased the potential for multitasking among students who have to juggle classes, school assignments, work, and recreational activities. These students believe that they have become more efficient by performing two or more tasks simultaneously. The use of technology, however, has changed the student’s ability to focus and attend to what they need to learn. Research has shown that multitasking divides students’ attention, which could have a negative impact on their cognition and learning. The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of distractive multitasking on students’ attention and academic performance in a classroom setting. Several studies in cognitive psychology have focused on individuals’ divided attention between simultaneously occurring tasks. Such research has found that, because human attention and capacity to process information are selective and limited, a performance decrement often results when task performance requires divided attention. Distractive tasks are defined as tasks or activities for which cognitive resources are used to process information that is not related to the course material. Multitasking is defined as the engagement in individual tasks that are performed in succession through a process of context switching. Using a non-experimental, correlational research design, the researcher examined the effects of distractive multitasking, with computer devices, during classroom lectures, on students’ academic performance. This study used a monitoring system to capture data that reflected actual multitasking behaviors from students who used computers while attending real-time classroom lectures. The findings showed that there was no statistically significant relationship between the frequency of distractive multitasking (predictor variable) and academic performance (criterion variable), as measured by the midterm and final evaluation scores. The results did not support the hypothesis that distractive computer-based multitasking could have a negative impact on academic performance.