Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Program Name/Specialization

Developmental Psychology


Faculty of Science

First Advisor

Dr. Eileen Wood

Advisor Role



Multitasking has become more prevalent with recent advancements in technology (Judd, 2014; Junco & Cotten, 2012). Many self-report studies, and the few available experimental manipulations, consistently indicate that media multitasking is related to decrements in learning. The present study extends the current literature by explicitly documenting students’ responses to media-based interruptions to learning. The current study also documents other behaviours students engage in that may or may not be related to multitasking when technology is available during lectures. In addition, the study explores the role of metacognition as a contributor to learning in a media-rich educational setting. In total, 118 Introductory Psychology students attended a 40-minute lecture and were assigned to one of three conditions: Facebook multitasking, multitasking choice, and no-technology control. Prior to participating, they completed a measure of metacognitive awareness and perceptions toward technology. After the lecture, they were tested for content knowledge, metacognitive awareness, and perceptions toward multitasking. A subsample of students in the technology conditions was video recorded and asked to identify their actions and thoughts at key times during the lecture. Qualitative coding of these interviews yielded seven overall themes dealing with multitasking behaviours and seven themes specific to learning behaviours. Overall, there was a trend towards increasing metacognition over time, with some aspects such as monitoring appearing in both the traditional measure of metacognitive awareness and in the students’ thematic summaries. Student performance was lower for content where prompts/messages were sent to the learners, suggesting that prompts and messages are problematic distractions for learning. Overall, the present study documents what multitasking looks like in today’s students, and identifies factors that do or do not influence multitasking behaviours and outcomes.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season