Argumentative Essay onMultitasking
In a world where those who “multitask well” are deemed effective, I wondered, “Are multitaskers really more efficient than non-multitaskers?” In the education journal, “The effect of multitasking on the grade performance of business students” (2010), Yvonne Ellis, Bobbie Daniels, and Andres Jauregui compose a test to determine the effects of multitasking on students. While their original hypothesis was that multitasking has no effect on students’ studies, they attempted to prove that multitasking does have a negative effect on them. Although a majority of students claim they are “good at multitasking,” entailing that they are capable of multitasking and equally having quality learning, the article proves otherwise. Defining multitasking as the “concurrent processing of two or more tasks through a process of context switching,” the authors neglect the generally accepted definition: the ability to process different types of information effectively at the same time.
When multitasking, the brain is processing information one at a time, implying a slower rate of processing. To clarify, concurring with past neurologist studies, they state that multitasking does not reduce the accuracy of information processing, but more so the ability of retrieving the information; thus deteriorating people’s ability to use the knowledge creatively and flexibly in new situations. Even stating that “when information is processed mindlessly, it becomes frozen the way in which it was originally received,” the authors imply our multitasking community distracted by our advance in communication technology, to be inefficient in our everyday tasks. Unable to state such a “shocking” truth without any evidence, the authors decided to test 62 undergraduate business students (a statistically proven good sample size for a test) enrolled in the first accounting principles course at a university in the Southeast, making them listen to their professor give a lecture. To test them, half the students were to text their professor at least three times during the lecture (experiment group), while the rest were instructed to turn their cell phones off (control group). To prevent students from preparing beforehand any further than they originally would, they were given a pop post-lecture quiz.
After gathering the data and performing a statistical test, the authors were able to conclude that multitasking results in lower grade performance. In addition, the authors furthered their studies to determine the possible effects gender and average GPA would have on the two sample blocks. However, after testing males vs. females, texting vs. non-texting females, texting vs.
non-texting males, texting vs. non-texting students with a GPA range 4.0 to 3.0, and texting vs. non-texting students with a GPA range below 3.
0, they were able to suggest that “regardless of GPA, multitasking results in lower grade performance.” Though the authors attempted to cover all confounding factors, they neglected the effects of individual circumstances on scores. What if someone in the control group was distracted by the thought of their hunger or the thought of having to deal with family issues? What if someone in the experimental group texted the professor three times in a row right when the lecture started (meaning they would have been multitasking for a maximum of two minutes)? What if some were skeptical and purposely tried to skew the data further than it should have been? Though it’s too much to ask of in a simple testing of a hypothesis, in order for the results to have little to no room for doubt, the authors should have had a questionnaire asking students of their current mental, physical, emotional, and psychological conditions before the lecture and compared the statistics for each possible group, to prove that no matter what personal differences there may be in the individual test subjects, multitasking results in a decreased ability to absorb information. Another hole in their testing lied with their failure to provide generalizable samples. First, they neglected the different type of students in a southeastern university.
There are enough differences in the thinking processes of students of different majors to provide different statistics. There should have been the same type of test for at least two more groups (possibly engineering and art students). Secondly, though it was mentioned that the authors know texting is not the only form of multitasking, they failed to notice that texting a friend versus a professor are on different pages. It is safe to say that the majority is talking about acquaintances and not professors when mentioning texting as part of their multitasking. Texting a professor requires a greater burden and thus being a greater distraction to the subject. In this, texting for this test did not properly reflect the population that the experiment aimed to represent.
The students should have been told to text someone they regularly text and have their phones checked after the lecture. In both these instances, failing to notice their shortcomings, the authors limited the capability of the test to generalize the population of people across the globe. Ellis, Daniels, and Jauregui went through various measures to prove the ever so modern controversial topic of the effects of multitasking. The degree of testing they went through to prove their hypothesis on this modern controversial topic is commendable in that they attempted to cover any shortcomings. They were able to think of the possible arguments readers might have, such as females having a greater capability of concentrating than males, or how students with a higher GPA may be “smarter” and better at concentrating than those with lower GPA; thus entailing such individual differences to have made the difference in test scores more extreme than others’.
Despite being unable to cover all the holes in their experiment, in proving the most prevalent arguments invalid while having a large enough sample size, a great level of confidence in the results could be achieved. “The effect of multitasking on the grade performance of business students” has the potential of making teenagers or any adult think twice before writing a paper while texting their BFF, stalking their new friend on Facebook, munching on Oreos and listening to “Blank Space.”