Digital Distractions: Using Action Research to Explore Students’ Behaviors, Motivations, and Perceptions of Cyberslacking in a Suburban High School
Date of Award
Open Access Dissertation
Michael M. Grant
Digital technology saturates the personal and educational lives of high school students who are accustomed to continuous connectivity; consequently, students are often distracted by technology in the classroom. When students use technology for non-class related activities during class time, this behavior is commonly known as cyberslacking. The purpose of this action research was to describe students’ understanding of cyberslacking and its academic and social effects in my English 3 Honors and Film Studies classes at Carraway High School. The research took place in the spring semester of 2019 with 59 students in Grades 10 through 12 who were enrolled in my English 3 Honors and Film Studies courses. Both courses integrated technology fully into most aspects of students’ learning, and all students had smartphones and school-issued Apple iPads. In order to describe students’ behaviors, motivations, and perceptions of cyberslacking, three data collection methods were used: observations, surveys, and focus group interviews. Findings showed that students cyberslacked regularly in class, using personal and school-issued devices. Their cyberslacking activities included texting, social media, watching videos, gaming, listening to music, and other types of entertainment. The duration of their cyberslacking sessions depended upon the selected cyberslacking activity, as well as the immediate events happening in class. Students indicated they cyberslacked because of habit, stress, anxiety, a need for connection, their perceived knowledge and comfort level in a course, lack of interest in a subject, and access to devices. However, they also expressed that teachers’ rules, respect for teachers, parental boundaries, and their own personal desire to be successful in school often motivated them not to cyberslack. Furthermore, some students perceived cyberslacking as negative, believing it had a detrimental effect on their academics and personal connections with teachers; others perceived cyberslacking as a positive influence, providing stress relief and brain breaks. This study offered valuable insights into possible root causes of students’ cyberslacking behaviors, including nomophobia, metacognition, perceived multitasking ability, student-teacher relationships, short attention spans, the need for instant gratification, and ability to self-regulate. Recommendations for teachers, students, school, district, and parents are discussed, as well as personal implications and implications for future research.
Self Rykard, K.(2020). Digital Distractions: Using Action Research to Explore Students’ Behaviors, Motivations, and Perceptions of Cyberslacking in a Suburban High School. (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from https://scholarcommons.sc.edu/etd/5901