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Disengagement during lectures: Media multitasking and mind wandering in university classrooms

, Yale University, United States ; , University of Waterloo, Canada ; , University of British Columbia, Canada ; , University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, United States ; , , University of Waterloo, Canada

Computers & Education Volume 132, Number 1, ISSN 0360-1315 Publisher: Elsevier Ltd


In university classrooms, the use of laptops or smartphones for purposes unrelated to the lecture is on the rise. Consequently, it is important to understand how frequently this behavior occurs, to track whether it increases throughout a lecture, and to quantify the potential costs to learning. In two studies, we measured rates of disengagement during lectures related to media use (i.e. media multitasking; Studies 1 & 2) and lecture-unrelated thoughts (i.e. mind wandering; Study 2). We also measured the impact of these behaviors on learning using quiz questions at the end of each lecture, and students’ actual course tests. In both Study 1 and 2, we found that rates of media multitasking were relatively high and increased as time elapsed in a lecture, while in Study 2, consistent with prior work, rates of mind wandering remained relatively stable. Interestingly, media multitasking - but not mind wandering - was associated with negative learning outcomes.


Wammes, J.D., Ralph, B.C.W., Mills, C., Bosch, N., Duncan, T.L. & Smilek, D. (2019). Disengagement during lectures: Media multitasking and mind wandering in university classrooms. Computers & Education, 132(1), 76-89. Elsevier Ltd. Retrieved June 19, 2019 from .

This record was imported from Computers & Education on March 15, 2019. Computers & Education is a publication of Elsevier.

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