The Role of Self-Regulation in Experiences of Digital Distraction in College Classrooms

The Role of Self-Regulation in Experiences of Digital Distraction in College Classrooms

Daniel B. le Roux, Douglas A. Parry
Copyright: © 2022 |Pages: 28
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-9243-4.ch005
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The chapter investigates digital distraction in college classrooms from the perspective of self-regulation theory. To this end, the chapter commences with a brief analysis of the distinction between behavioural and cognitive shifts in attention, the role of intentionality in digital distraction, and the concept of online vigilance. Thereafter the general premises of self-regulation theory are described, and prominent theoretical models that have emerged in this domain are briefly outlined. Two models deemed particularly applicable to digital distraction are selected from these. The first is the value-based choice model which frames self-regulation as a process of deliberative decision-making which foregoes action taking. The second is the process model which emphasises the strategies individuals employ to prevent goal conflict. Both models are described before being applied as interpretive lenses to analyse key findings from empirical studies of digital distraction.
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Conceptualising Digital Distraction

Before considering digital distraction in relation to self-regulation theory, it is important to provide a clear conceptualisation of the phenomenon. Two aspects of digital distraction, in particular, require elaboration. The first concerns the distinction between behavioural and attentional (or cognitive) shifting, while the second concerns the degree of intentionality or deliberateness associated with instances of digital distraction. The sections which follow outline key arguments relevant to these two aspects.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Self-Control: The process by which goal-conflict is resolved through the advancement of one goal over another.

Value-Based Choice: A decision between options based on a subjective value determination of each option.

Response Modulation: The effortful inhibition of responses to tempting stimuli.

Online Vigilance: An individual’s degree of cognitive involvement with the online environment, including their constant monitoring of and proclivity to respond to online events.

Digital Distraction: Instances of intentional and/or automatic shifts in cognitive and/or behavioural orientation away from a primary task domain and towards digital media.

Intentionality: The conscious awareness of or directedness towards something.

Interventive Strategies: Self-control strategies that are used to manage conflicts in situations in which a temptation is unavoidable.

Preventive Strategies: Self-control strategies that minimise the extent to which an impulse occurs.

Self-Regulation: The processes involved in striving towards a desired goal by monitoring thoughts and behaviour and, if these are incongruent with the goal, taking actions to support alignment.

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