Texting Negatively Impacts Performance

Tempted to check your iPhone during that boring meeting? Hearing that fateful Blackberry tone, so that you know you have a text? You might want to put the phone down after reading this.

A recent study in Research in Higher Education Journal demonstrates that texting has a negative impact on grade performance. [1]  Researchers randomly split an introductory accounting class of sixty-two students in half.  One half was requested to text the professor three times during a lecture, the other half was requested to refrain from texting during the lecture.  Unknown to the students was that they would be taking a test after the lecture. 

Texting students achieved a 42.81 mean, non-texting students received a 58.67 mean, a statistically significant difference.  Controlling for gender, the study found no differences, that is, females who texted did worse than females who did not text.  They also controlled for GPA (grade point average).  Students with higher GPAs who text did not perform as well on the test as high GPA students who did not text.

Neuroscience suggests that for memory tasks that require understanding and recalling unfamiliar material, multitasking reduces performance.  It would appear that texting is a distraction that negatively impacts performance when engaging with unfamiliar material.

What is the bottom line for the average working stiff?  Although multitasking might seem like a productivity boon, it isn’t.  In fact, it could decrease your performance.

I’m going to leave you with a quote from John DallaCosta, Centre for Ethical Orientation about Broken Busy-ness:

 “We adhere to busy-ness to get done the most possible within our talents.  But it is a trap locking us into the churn of never doing enough, never catching up, never attaining what truly satisfies.”


[1] Ellis, Yvonne, Daniels, Bobbie and Jauregui, Andres.  “The effect of multi-tasking on the grade performance of business students” Research in Higher Education. June 2010. Vol. 8. P 1 – 10. 


5 replies »

  1. This is new?? Isn’t this the same as TV vs Homework, Cell Phone vs Driving and Thinking of your Mother-In-Law while having Sex. Some things just don’t work well together. Multitasking is for computers and even they need more than one brain in order to accomplish anything today.
    I agree with John DallaCosta, “…..never attaining what truly satisfies.” You make a good point however the study was a waste and redundant. This horse has already been thoroughly flogged.

  2. …….and the Ontario Government just wimped out by leaving the decision for cell phone use in class or not, up to the individual teacher……….now that’s Leadership!

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