How Much Multitasking Should Be Done In The Classroom?

“Ability to multitask”. That phrase is seen on nearly every job description that I’ve ever read. It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in or what job you’re applying for – everyone expects everyone to be able to multitask. But what does that mean, exactly? Does it mean being able to work on three things at once? Let’s be real here, you can’t write three different emails at once – multitasking usually means something more along the lines of rapidly switching gears from one project to another. But does multitasking actually help you get more done, or is it eating away at your actual productivity? 

This prompts an interesting discussion in the realm of education. We often talk about how the younger generations of students are masters of multitasking because they’ve been brought up in an era of constant stimulation and tons of devices to distract them. At the same time, teachers are still trying to get their students to focus on a task at hand. This begs the question: Should we let them multitask, or is that really not the best option?

The handy infographic below takes a look at the perils of multitasking. Does it shed any light on the question above for you? Are you a teacher that strictly polices device use to keep students on task, or do you approach it differently? Weigh in by leaving a comment below, mentioning @Edudemic on Twitter or leaving your thoughts on our Facebook page.

Multitasking in the Classroom

  • Studies show that only 2% of people can multitask effectively
  • For the rest of us, attempting to multitask can do more harm than good
  • Technology tends to increase more fruitless multitasking
  • 45% of workers believe they have too much to do at work, yet 89% of smartphone owners report using them while at work
  • Employees who use a computer for work are distracted every 10.5 minutes, on average
  • 62% of webpages students open during class are unrelated
  • On average, students generate 65 different screen windows during a lecture
  • While Americans watch tv, 42% browse the internet, and 29% talk on the phone, and 26% message others
  • 67% of people check their email on a date, 45% check during a movie in a theater, and 33% check in church
  • Studies show that allowing yourself to be distracted regularly can lower your IQ by about 10 points
  • The average desk employee loses over 2 hours a day to distractions
  • Trying to focus on more than one thing results in a 40% drop in productivity
  • This is the equivalent of missing an entire night’s sleep
  • This also represents twice the effect of smoking marijuana
  • This adds up to losing 546 hours annually!