Why Are You Here?

Why are you here? That’s the question that we may ask students or ask ourselves as students. Why? If we are in class because we are interested in learning a specific topic, I believe that the probability of paying attention to the class may be higher than if we are there just to meet a requirement. Don’t you think so? Won’t you be more engaged in the class?

I believe that laptops when are not “truly needed”, are a very distractive tool in the classroom. Especially, when you are not interested or bored in the class. I speak for myself, I have used my laptop during classes to answer emails, check facebook, read the news, shopping, and so on. This happens when I lose the attention of the class.

Two of the reasons for students using laptops during classes are to 1) take notes and 2) to follow the class material. However, for me, it turns very difficult to take notes with my laptop. During my undergrad and master studies, I always wrote by hand everything. Thus, when I was studying for the exams I remembered that I have written something about the specific doubt in my notebook.

According to Darren Rosenblum,

“Students process information better when they take notes — they don’t just transcribe, as they do with laptops, but they think and record those thoughts”.

Now, the question is, are you a multitasking person?  Undoubtedly, if you want to listen, to understand what the professor is saying and to take notes at the same time, you need multitasking skills.

I used to be very good at multitasking activities when I was in Colombia. However, since I started to take classes here in the United States, this became a challenge for me. I can not do it. I mean, I can write something but I forget what the professor says very quickly. Meanwhile, I am taking notes, I am listening but all my attention is not there. So, at the end, I am very lost. Essential activities such as listening, reading, thinking, and writing, when combined are challenging by nature but these are even more challenging when you have to do it at the same time in your non-native language.

By coincidence, I took a multitask test this week to help my friend collecting data for a class. The first exercise consisted of memorizing numbers of 6 digits that appeared one at a time for 3 seconds on the computer screen. Then, I had to select the respective number between two options that were very similar. I had to say left or right depending on the location of the answer. At the same time, I had to play Tetris and try to score the highest score. In the second exercise, instead of memorizing the numbers, I had to hear numbers in a recording and then I had to subtract 1 to each number and to report the result. Again, I was playing Tetris at the same time. Guess what? I did so bad with the Tetris (look at my score, that’s very embarrassing!). I could not do both tasks at the time successfully. So, my question is, how can we improve our multitasking skills? Are we relying so much on Google?


5 Responses to Why Are You Here?

  1. Yang Liu says:

    Usually, for the students in the digital designer, the computer is part of our life. However, in the primary step to record, the creative ideas and concepts, I prefer (most of our art and design students) to use the traditional ways sketching the process. For example, to do an animation both in 3D or 2D, I will draw the keyframes in my sketching book. It is more efficient and comfortable personally to highlight the essential part when I transfer to the digital language.

  2. I also don’t like taking notes on the computer and always handwrote my notes. However, I’ve been struggling lately with having notes written down in so many places. I have so many notebooks and scrap pieces of paper that I can’t keep track of everything. I sometimes think having it all electronic will make things easier. I also struggle with writing down notes and paying attention at the same time and do what Amy does, take notes and understand after the class. I don’t feel like this is very effective but if I just pay attention to the lecture, the chances of me forgetting things are very high. So something has to give.

  3. Anurag says:

    I have tried going down the handwritten notes path and realized that my handwriting is so bad that I find it hard to decipher things I have written (or doodled) in my notebooks after. Since the beginning of graduate school I have used and re-used just one notebook to write down notes from meetings etc. Beyond that, I’d rather take notes on a computer and be able to read it later, than take notes in paper and don’t know what it says.

  4. Ethan says:

    I had to do the same activity for another person in that same class. I had similar thoughts about how it was a great example of the issues of multitasking. Ive never been good at multitasking, but in learning how to cope with ADHD i at times feel like i have better control over my attention and focus than some of my classmates with out similar diagnoses. Students who spend class mutitasking puzzle me because they know they are missing material, wasting mine and their time, but they continue to do it anyway.

  5. Amy Hermundstad says:

    Thank you for your post! I definitely agree that trying to listen, process, think, and write all at the same time can be extremely challenging, and you bring up a great point about additional factors that make this even more difficult. For so many of the classes that I took during my undergraduate education, all I could do was try to write down everything that the professor said and then I tried to figure it out later after class. I wonder if we as educators could incorporate more time for students to process the material in these classes instead of just trying to get through as much material as possible during each class.

    And the multitasking study sounds really interesting! Thanks for sharing!

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