As the annual NAPLAN exams draw nearer, many parents are wondering how they can help prepare their children for these basic numeracy and literacy tests. There are many ways to assist children to get ready for their NAPLAN exams, like by providing formative feedback, but what can parents do to help today, at home, to help students go into the exams feeling confident? Parents can help their children by reducing distractions, find out why and how below.
Moving away from the multitasking mindset
Studies have shown that the current "multitasking" lifestyle that so many children have been brought up with could be harming their ability to study. For example, a research project conducted by Stanford University concluded that multitasking is less productive than doing each task once at a time. The researchers also found that people who regularly receive streams of electronic information cannot pay attention, recall information or switch jobs as well as those who do not multitask.
Meanwhile, a similar study by the Institute of Psychiatry at the University of London found that multitasking with electronic media caused a greater decrease in IQ than losing a night's sleep.
The number of devices young people use - including phones, TVs and iPads, often all at the same time - is also having an impact. A University of Sussex survey has found that people who do this have less brain density in the anterior cingulate cortex. This is a region responsible for empathy as well as cognitive and emotional control.
The multitask mindset in the classroom
Parents and teachers are finding this multitask mindset increasingly difficult to deal with in the classroom. A research project from the University of Connecticut has found that multitasking increases the length of time it takes to study while at the same time lowering grades.
The increased distractions that a multitask, multi-device mindset produces, means that getting children to focus - the key to successful study - is becoming more and more difficult.
Gaming: Friend or foe?
Many parents lament the amount of time their children spend on games. While sitting down for 60 minutes to prepare for a NAPLAN exam becomes difficult, many kids are able to sit down and play a video game for hours at a time.
Why are games so effective at getting young people to focus? Gaming involves an engaging mix of problem-solving, autonomy, challenge, constant specific feedback and accomplishment. In order for study methods to work, they must take on these same characteristics.
Studiosity: In the moment study
Online study help platform Studiosity requires students to fully focus on the task at hand. It's all about problem solving and learning by doing.
The Studiosity specialists in the Connect Live service don't give students the answer to a particular question, instead they show them how to get there. The live nature of the service (which uses chat, collaborative whiteboard and file sharing) means a student must focus his or her full attention on the particular problem they are trying to solve. There is no opportunity to start doing other things and get into the multitask mindset.
This increases young people's capacity for critical thinking, which has been proven to be an essential skill for children that should be instilled from an early age. Kylie Rymanowicz of Michigan State University highlights the importance of critical thinking in evaluating information, improving problem-solving abilities and learning from others.
If we manage to get children out of the multitask mindset and focusing their full attention on study, (through consistent practice) they will have a much better chance at reaching their full potential.
Would your family like to try Studiosity? Find out more about the service subscriptions.
Bealing, J. (2014). Brain scans reveal ‘grey matter’ differences in media multitaskers. [online] The University of Sussex. Available at: http://www.sussex.ac.uk/broadcast/read/26540 [Accessed 7 May 2018].
Gillespie, I. (2015). Multitasking makes you stupid, studies find. [online] The Sydney Morning Herald. Available at: https://www.smh.com.au/technology/multitasking-makes-you-stupid-studies-find-20150520-gh5ouq.html [Accessed 7 May 2018].
Poitras, C. (2015). Multitasking Increases Study Time, Lowers Grades - UConn Today. [online] UConn Today. Available at: https://today.uconn.edu/2015/07/multitasking-increases-study-time-lowers-grades/ [Accessed 7 May 2018].
Rymanowicz, K. (2016). The importance of critical thinking for young children. [online] MSU Extension. Available at: http://msue.anr.msu.edu/news/the_importance_of_critical_thinking_for_young_children [Accessed 7 May 2018].
University, S. (2009). Media multitaskers pay mental price, Stanford study shows. [online] Stanford News. Available at: https://news.stanford.edu/2009/08/24/multitask-research-study-082409/ [Accessed 7 May 2018].