Evaluating the Impact of Chat Messaging in Synchronous Learning on Information Retention
Taylor Miller (she/her), undergraduate in the College of Arts and Sciences, is supervised by Associate Professor Christopher Was, Ph.D. (he/him), associate professor in the department of psychological sciences, to complete her honors thesis. Together, they explore the relationship between mind-wandering and multitasking during synchronous learning sessions at home among college students.
The research they are conducting now is a continuation of the pilot study they performed in 2020 and 2021 on information retention differences when various simulated chat messaging is accompanying the lecture. Three groups were developed based on three common synchronous learning settings: one group with no chat, one group with a chat corresponding to the learning material, and one group with a chat not corresponding to the learning material.
“Our research now uses the same methodology [as the pilot study]. We are using the same video, the same simulated chats, and the same format,” said Taylor, “We did not collect enough data the first time to make inferential statistics of possibility…So, we have taken the same study in each semester so we can collect even more data.”
Taylor and Dr. Was will be presenting this data at the Midwestern Psychological Association conference in Chicago this April 2022.
As the use of technology within classroom settings has increased throughout the pandemic, understanding student behavior during synchronous courses becomes increasingly important. As distance education is such a novel method of learning for many schools, a new niche has been created for research opportunities.
“I know there is going to be a huge wave of new studies coming out relating to the effects of distractions and how students learn online in general, because this was not a thing 10 years ago,” explained Taylor Miller, “So, I think it can contribute to branching into a new field of learning psychology.”
“This has ecologically valid applications, as Taylor is saying,” said Dr. Was, “As more and more classes go online, if we can find those little things that can keep students engaged with what they are doing, that will have a huge impact. So, this is certainly not going to be the last study in this field, but it is one that leads to real-world applications for this kind of research.”