Multitasking -- Can we actually perform tasks in parallel?
Is multitasking possible? If yes, then what conditions apply and is quality affected? If no, then why does it appear we can?
- What are the popular and technical definitions for multitasking?
- If we can actually multitask, what conditions must be met and is quality of performance on tasks reduced / increased, duration for completing tasks reduced / increased, and are stress levels of person multitasking reduced / increased?
- If we cannot actually multitask, then why does it 'look' like we can / are, what's really happening when we 'multitask', and does any reduction / increase depend upon categories of tasks performed in parallel? Examples:
- Walking and Talking vs. Driving and Texting.
- Watching a Movie and Studying for a Test vs. Watching a Movie and Cooking Dinner
- Primary: Addiction, Habit Formation, Health & Wellness, Learning & Study Skills, Cognitive Costs
- Secondary: Multitasking in Computers, Fundamental Computing Components, Data Analysis & Making Generalizations
- Tertiary: Test-case Design, Basic Statistical Measurements, Using Spreadsheet Software, Simple Abuses of Statistics
For students to walk away with an understanding of what addiction is, how addictive technology can be, how to recognize things to which they may be addicted, how in many contexts 'multitasking' is a euphemism for 'being distracted', and the negative impact on cognitive ability associated with attempts to perform certain categories of tasks in parallel.
Along the way, basics of human cognition are explored and compared to how computers function, specifically the illusion of multitasking in both cases. Categories of tasks are identified and tested singly and in parallel with both other homogeneous and heterogeneous categories. Students will then learn how to do basic data analysis and the importance of having adequate plot points for making generalizations.
Wrap-up consists of easily understood cases where statistics have been intentionally abused or unintentionally misused, acting as a jumping point into a unit on Information Fluency with topics including, types of sources, power of language and visuals, and improving search techniques.