Multitasking and Today’s Physics Student: A Global Perspective

  • Teresa L. LarkinEmail author
  • Diana Urbano
  • Benjamin R. Hein
Conference paper
Part of the Advances in Intelligent Systems and Computing book series (AISC, volume 916)


This paper focuses on a study conducted with undergraduate students at two institutions of higher education – American University in Washington, DC and the University of Porto in Portugal - undertaken in spring 2018. Student participants in the U.S. were enrolled in a first-level introductory physics courses taken primarily by students who are not math or science majors. The Portuguese students were enrolled in a first-level introductory physics course designed for engineering majors. At both institutions, the first level courses focus on basic classical mechanics. Using a survey constructed by the authors, questions related to multitasking and student perceptions of its impact on learning in physics were given to student volunteers taking these introductory courses. Survey questions include those designed using a Likert-type scale as well as a small number of open-ended questions. Upon comparison of a small subset of survey results, this paper will provide a discussion of what factors relating to multitasking our student participants feel are promoting or hindering them both inside and outside of the physics classroom. Through a comparison of these preliminary results across both institutions, we hope to gain a deeper and more global insight into possible reasons students engage in multitasking both inside and outside of the physics classroom. Implications for future studies will also be shared.


Generation Y Generation Z Learning in introductory physics Millennials Multitasking 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Teresa L. Larkin
    • 1
    Email author
  • Diana Urbano
    • 2
  • Benjamin R. Hein
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of PhysicsAmerican UniversityWashingtonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Physics EngineeringUniversity of PortoPortoPortugal
  3. 3.Shady Grove Presbyterian ChurchDerwoodUSA

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