The effects of text messaging on memory recall in college students

WCU Author/Contributor (non-WCU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Dakota Rae Lawson (Creator)
Western Carolina University (WCU )
Web Site:
Bruce Henderson

Abstract: Technology is constantly changing, and has enabled communication to be readily available everywhere, to everyone, including students in classrooms. Most devices are portable, capable of talking, texting, and surfing the internet. Many researchers have questioned the impact technology has on individuals, making multitasking a popular research area in cognitive psychology today. Simulated environments have been created and used to examine an individual’s performance while using a cell phone as they engage in everyday activities such as driving or walking. Results from the simulated environments have found that when individuals perform a primary task while conversing on a cell phone, they have lower performance on the primary task (Charlton, 2009). The majority of research on multitasking has examined how cell phone use affects driving performance. Because text messaging is a popular form of communication among young adults, an emerging area of multitasking research is now examining the effects of cell phones in learning environments. The purpose of the current study is to examine the various components of text messaging and determine which component is the most distracting for college students. Participants were randomly assigned to the control group, the receiving group, or the combined sending and receiving group. The group the participant was randomly assigned to determined their task with the cell phone during the video. Each participant watched a 10 minute video on memory. After the video ended, participants completed the posttest about the video. An analysis of variance (ANOVA) was used to determine if there was an overall difference between group’s posttest scores. Results indicated a significant difference in posttest scores for the three groups. Results indicated the mean score for the control group was significantly different from the receiving group and the combined group. The combined group and receiving group did not differ significantly from one another. An ANOVA was used to determine the overall difference between groups on target questions. There was no statistically significant difference between the groups memory recall for the target questions. Pearson product moment correlation was used to investigate the relationships between participant’s perceived multitasking ability and their posttest score. There was a small negative correlation between the two variables, with high levels of individual beliefs about their ability to multitask associated with lower scores on the posttest. These findings go along with the threaded cognition theory, combining a novel task with a well learned task consumes a significant amount of cognitive resources and interferes with learning. The implications of the results and areas of future research are discussed.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2013
Text messaging (Cell phone systems) -- North Carolina -- Psychological aspects -- Case studies
College students -- Effect of technological innovations on -- North Carolina -- Case studies
Recollection (Psychology) -- Case studies

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