Discussions are fundamental to shared learning, so please be sure to participate early and often!
After you have completed the Reading, and without reviewing your classmate’s responses, post your initial response to the following Discussion. Your post should be at least 200-250 words in length and should extend the discussion of the group supported by your course materials and/or other appropriate resources.
After you have submitted your initial post, take time to review your classmates’ responses and to respond specifically and substantially to at least two of them. Refer to the Discussion Rubric in Course Resources for specific grading explanation.
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In this week’s Reading you learned about the topic of divided attention — when you try to pay attention to more than one thing at a time. This is something you do all the time, however the psychological research suggests you may not be as good at this as you think you are.
For this Discussion, describe an example of an everyday situation where you might engage in divided attention. Discuss whether you think it is possible to pay attention to more than one task at a time, using the information from this week’s Reading to support your answer.
RESPONSE 1: MEGAN
Between work, school, kids, and life overall, I feel as if my senses are overloaded with excess amounts of stimuli. I have a difficult time concentrating, and performing well at my tasks at hand. For example, mornings consist of getting myself ready, in addition to my two children. Often, I’m trying to multitask by packing lunches, making breakfast, feeding the animals, and answering messages or emails off my phone. I learned from our unit reading, research does not support multitasking; typically performing one task at a time is a more effective and accurate way to focus one’s attention. (Matlin, M. W., Farmer, T. A. (2016). Which leads me to mention selective-attention, this is when a person pays attention to certain kinds of information, while ignoring other ongoing information. As my son is talking to me about Minecraft mods and creepers, my daughter is adding to the conversation by telling me about a bizarre dream she had! I navigate and decipher what’s most important, respond and act accordingly, all while continuing our morning routine. I find myself facing divided attention tasks frequently, and try to respond appropriately to each message. Although my attention is not capable of handling these challenging tasks. I try to remember the importance of tackling life one day, and one task at a time. As a single, working mother I feel the weight of responsibility. Like many other parents, we are pulled in 500 directions and attempt to concur the world. We must remember to take it slow, and focus on what’s most important.
Matlin, M. W., Farmer, T. A. (2016). Cognition, 9th Edition. [Purdue University Global Bookshelf]. Retrieved from https://purdueuniversityglobal.vitalsource.com/#/books/9781119177678/
RESPONSE 2 MARCUS:
Social media is slowing killing face-to-face interactions which limits our ability to truly gauge how our attention is divided outside of the emoticons, and hashtags. As a child I often traveled up and down the street to see how everyone was doing. These interactions helped to truly understand my neighbors and their lives. My children now spend more time on a tablet than they interact with the real world. Facebook has officially replaced individual interactions as many often find it easier to discuss how they feel through a QWERTY keyboard than a one, on one interaction, social media is holding our collective attention spans hostage.
“The concept of attention is traditionally closely linked to the resource theory and its central premise that an organism possesses limited capacity and has to select from the multitude of available sensory input” (Broadbent, 1958). Although we may think we are offering our undivided attention to someone, this message may not be conveyed to them based on the senses we have offered to the conversation. My current positions requires a large amount of coordination which for the most part is accomplished through text, emails, and phone calls. I often find myself speaking to someone but focusing on the dings, and pings of these various communication mediums.
According to our text “when people are multitasking, they strain the limits of attention, as well as the limits of their working memory and long term memory” (Matlin & Farmer, 2016). If an individual has to strain or push their senses to the limit to share their attention with another while working on a project with other senses, they are not exclusively focusing on the individual interaction. Can a person effectively multitask? I believe the answer is a resounding yes as I often accomplish several task at once. The problem is only visible when I think back about the true nature of interaction or the quality of the product produce which is most likely of lesser quality than if I focused on one thing or a single conversation at once.
Broadbent DE. Perception and Communication. London: Plenum Press; 1958.
Matlin, M.W., & Farmer, T.A. (2016). Cognition.