Examining predictive factors and effects of in-class multitasking with mobile phones

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)



The study aims to give a descriptive account of university students’ engagement with non-learning-related activities during class time and explore the relationship between off-task multitasking and learning. The predictive factors for off-task multitasking from individual, social and class-related dimensions are also examined. 


Contextualized in a comprehensive university in Hong Kong, the study adopts a survey design and involves 79 samples. 


The data show that Hong Kong university students are avid users of mobile phones and heavily engage with digital devices. Off-task multitasking with mobile phones is a common phenomenon, yet not related to learning performance. Among the various media and apps on mobile phones, instant messenger stands out as the most frequently used app on a daily basis and inside the classroom. The individual device-use habit and classroom engagement are significant predictors for off-task multitasking during class time. 

Practical implications

This paper will allow teachers and students to be more aware of the causes and effects of off-task multitasking behaviors during class time and derive practical guidance and strategies to pay heed to and resist the disruptive influence of technologies on learning. 


The existing scholarly work show a mixed and incomplete picture regarding the effects and determining factors of students’ multitasking. This study includes three variables from individual, social and teaching/learning dimensions and seeks to evaluate their predictive strengths. The results of the study will deepen our understanding of the patterns of off-task multitasking.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)49-58
Number of pages10
JournalInteractive Technology and Smart Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 4 Mar 2019

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Computer Science (miscellaneous)
  • Education

User-Defined Keywords

  • Higher education
  • Mobile phone
  • Multitasking


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