What Is The Most Efficient Way Of Multitasking?
Middle School/High School
Difficulty of Project
Approximate Time Required to Complete the Project
A few days.
- To understand the effects of multitasking on the quality of work that is produced.
- To determine whether multitasking can be done more efficiently by combining different subjects.
Materials and Equipment / Ingredients
- A simple scientific experiment
- A list of obscure historical dates
- Several different personal essay topics
- A list of obscure grammatical structures
- A set of math problems of varying difficulty
- An audiobook
- A way to play the audiobook
- Tests relating to:
Historical dates, Grammatical structures, The audiobook
Everyone multitasks. Our society is designed for it. Schools give out enough homework that it would take several nights to complete ever assignment individually. When searching for jobs, companies always advertise for people who are skilled at multitasking. It seems likely that if one multitasks, one will produce work that is worse than if one were to put all his/her time and energy into a single task. But are some methods of multitasking better than others? How do different scenarios affect the work that is produced?
- How does multitasking cause the quality of the product to change?
- What subjects are easily combined? What subjects are not?
Terms, Concepts and Questions to Start Background Research
- What different tasks represent work from different subjects?
- What are some personal essay topics that will make people think?
- Are there certain kinds of people who tend to multitask better than others?
- Gather a group of subjects who are interested in participating in this experiment.
- Divide these subjects into five groups of equal size.
a. Alternatively, you can have every person participate in every part of the experiment. This would be better if you do not have very many participants.
- Give every participant (in all subgroups) a personal essay to write. Give them a time limit in which to write this essay. They can finish early, of course, but not late.
- Divide your participants into groups (or else, do these steps in order, preferably on different days). They will have the same period of time to complete the following:
a. Group A: these people will write a personal essay while listening to an audiobook. Be clear that they will be tested on the audiobook after the time is finished.
i. After the time is over, test these participants on the contents of the audiobook.
b. Group B: these people will write a personal essay while conducting a simple scientific experiment.
c. Group C: these people will write a personal essay while doing a set of math problems.
d. Group D: these people will write a personal essay while memorizing a set of historical dates. Be clear that they will be tested on these dates later.
i. After the time is over, test these participants on the dates.
e. Group E: these people will write a personal essay while studying a set of obscure grammatical structures. Be clear that they will be tested on these structures later.
i. After the time is over, test these participants on these structures.
ii. Also, notice whether the participants were more likely to use these structures in the essay.
Brynie, Faith. “The Madness of Multitasking.” Brain Sense. Psychology Today. August 24, 2009. http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/brain-sense/200908/the-madness-multitasking
Taylor, Jim. “Psychology of Technology: the Myth of Multi-tasking”. Tilt Mobility. May 29, 2009. http://tiltmobility.com/the-psychology-of-technology-the-myth-of-multitasking/
Criss, Brandy R. “Gender Differences in Multitasking.” The Department of Psychology at MWSU. 2009. http://clearinghouse.missouriwestern.edu/manuscripts/815.php
Warning is hereby given that not all Project Ideas are appropriate for all individuals or in all circumstances. Implementation of any Science Project Idea should be undertaken only in appropriate settings and with appropriate parental or other supervision. Reading and following the safety precautions of all materials used in a project is the sole responsibility of each individual. For further information, consult your state’s handbook of Science Safety.