Critical Thinking Technology

If you are doing a task that requires deep and sustained thought, multi-tasking is detrimental."New Zealand researcher Paul Kearney measured multi-tasking and found that people who played a realistic video game before engaging in a military computer simulation showed a significant improvement in their ability to multi-task, compared with people in a control group who did not play the video game.In the simulation, the player operates a weapons console, locates targets and reacts quickly to events.However, 4th-graders students who reported using laptops or desktop computers "in some classes" outscored students who said they "never" used these devices in class by 13 points.That's also the equivalent of a year's worth of learning.Another study Greenfield analyzed found that college students who watched "CNN Headline News" with just the news anchor on screen and without the "news crawl" across the bottom of the screen remembered significantly more facts from the televised broadcast than those who watched it with the distraction of the crawling text and with additional stock market and weather information on the screen."If you're a pilot, you need to be able to monitor multiple instruments at the same time.If you're a cab driver, you need to pay attention to multiple events at the same time."Reading for pleasure is the key to developing these skills.

That's the equivalent of a year's worth of learning, according to the report.If you're in the military, you need to multi-task too," she said."On the other hand, if you're trying to solve a complex problem, you need sustained concentration.Does using technology in school actually help improve students' thinking skills? That's the question the Reboot Foundation, a nonprofit, asked in a new report examining the impact of technology usage.The foundation analyzed international tests, like the Programme for International Student Assessment or PISA, which compares student outcomes in different nations, and the National Assessment of Educational Progress or NAEP, which is given only in the U. and considered the "Nation's Report Card." The Reboot Foundation was started—and funded—by Helen Bouygues, whose background is in business, to explore the role of technology in developing critical thinking skills.Her research was published this month in the journal Science.Reading for pleasure, which has declined among young people in recent decades, enhances thinking and engages the imagination in a way that visual media such as video games and television do not, Greenfield said."No one medium is good for everything," Greenfield said."The best video game players made 47 percent fewer errors and performed 39 percent faster in laparoscopic tasks than the worst video game players."Visual intelligence has been rising globally for 50 years, Greenfield said.In 1942, people's visual performance, as measured by a visual intelligence test known as Raven's Progressive Matrices, went steadily down with age and declined substantially from age 25 to 65.As technology has played a bigger role in our lives, our skills in critical thinking and analysis have declined, while our visual skills have improved, according to research by Patricia Greenfield, UCLA distinguished professor of psychology and director of the Children's Digital Media Center, Los Angeles.Learners have changed as a result of their exposure to technology, says Greenfield, who analyzed more than 50 studies on learning and technology, including research on multi-tasking and the use of computers, the Internet and video games.

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