Shah AV, Mullens DJ, Van Duyn LJ, Januchowski RP. Multitasking Behaviors of Osteopathic Medical Students. J Am Osteopath Assoc 2014;114(8):654–659. doi: https://doi.org/10.7556/jaoa.2014.130.
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Context: To the authors' knowledge, few studies have investigated the relationship between electronic media multitasking by undergraduate and graduate students during lecture and their academic performance, and reports that have looked into this behavior have neglected to investigate factors that may influence students' multitasking during lecture.
Objective: To determine the extent to which medical students multitask during lecture; the types of multitasking; the frequency of multitasking and factors that influence frequency; and the correlation between multitasking and knowledge acquisition as assessed by a postlecture quiz.
Methods: A 1-page survey assessing students' multitasking behavior was administered to 125 second-year students at Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine and collected at the onset of a standard 50-minute lecture. On completion of the 50-minute lecture, an unannounced 10-question multiple-choice quiz was given to assess knowledge acquisition during those lectures. On a separate date, after a standard 50-minute lecture, a second quiz was administered.
Results: The 1-page survey revealed that 98% of students check e-mail, 81% use social media, and 74% study for another class. Students spent the most time studying for another class (23 minutes) followed by using social media (13 minutes) and checking e-mail (7 minutes). The most influential factors behind multitasking were examination schedule (91%), lecturer (90%), and the number of lectures in the day (65%). The mean score for quiz 1 (the day after an examination) was 75%, and the mean score for quiz 2 (the day before an examination) was 60%.
Conclusion: Multitasking during lecture is prominent among medical students, and examination schedule is the most influential factor. Although a robust drop in mean score on a lecture-based, unannounced quiz was identified 1 day before a scheduled examination, the effect from multitasking on this process remains unclear.
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