Research Methodologies for Multitasking Studies

Research Methodologies for Multitasking Studies

Lin Lin (University of North Texas, USA), Patricia Cranton (University of New Brunswick, Canada) and Jennifer Lee (University of North Texas, USA)
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 20
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-7409-7.ch017
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The research on multitasking is scattered across disciplines, and the definitions of multitasking vary according to the discipline. As a result, the research is not coherent nor consistent in the approaches taken to understanding this phenomenon. In this chapter, the authors review studies on multitasking in different disciplines with a focus on the research methodologies used. The three main research paradigms (empirical-analytical, interpretive, and critical) are used as a framework to understand the nature of the research. The strengths and weaknesses of the research in each of the paradigms are examined, and suggestions are made for utilizing different research methodologies to bring clarity to the research in this field. Such an endeavour will help to build interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary research and help guide future research and theory building.
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Terms And Definitions Of Multitasking In Different Disciplines

A number of definitions have been proposed to explain people’s preferences for tasks and how their attention may be affected when they perform two or more tasks. Table 1 summarizes some common definitions of the multitasking phenomenon.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Dual Task: A procedure in experimental (neuro) psychology that requires an individual to perform two tasks simultaneously in order to compare performance with single-task conditions ( Navon& Gopher, 1979 ).

Task Switch: An executive function and a kind of cognitive flexibility that involves the ability to shift attention between one task and another ( Monsell, 2003 ).

Research Paradigm: A philosophical perspective on the meaning of research, including assumptions about objectivity, subjectivity, and the nature of knowledge.

Polychronicity: A continuum, and preferences for degrees of engagement. At one extreme is the pattern of focusing on one task at a time, interpreting other potential tasks and events as interruptions and attempting to shield one's chosen task from such interference. The other extreme is actually open-ended, it involves engagement in several tasks simultaneously, sometimes literally simultaneously and sometimes in a frequent back-and-forth engagement pattern ( Bluedorn, 2002 ).

Media Multitasking: Concurrent use of multiple media (Roberts & Rideout, 2005 AU44: The in-text citation "Roberts & Rideout, 2005" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. ).

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