Students, if you're not familiar with the study tips on The Learning Scientists website, you should be. This page in particular sums up six evidence-based things you should be doing while you study (spoiler alert: The list does not include highlighting!).
The Learning Scientists' latest blog post sums up the results of an experimental study on where your phone should be while you engage in cognitive tasks. It's titled, "Separation from your cellphone boosts your cognitive capacity." Take a look at the description to get an overview of the research design:
They invited students to participate in an experiment where students were randomly assigned into one of three conditions.
- In the "other room" condition, students were asked to leave their belongings (including their cellphones) in the lobby before coming into the room where the experiment would take place.
- In other two conditions, students were asked to take their belongings with them to the experiment room, and were either told to leave the cellphone out of sight, e.g., in their bags or pockets (bag/pocket condition) or place it face down on the desk within sight (desk condition).
Then, participants worked on two cognitive tasks: One working memory task – called Automated Operation Span task (OSpan) – where people are asked to actively process information while holding other information in mind....For the other task – the Raven’s Standard Progressive Matrices (RSPM) – participants had to identify the missing piece in a matrix pattern. This test is used to assess fluid intelligence and your performance depends to a large extent on the available attentional capacities to identify the underlying rule of the pattern matrix.
a) Based on the description, what kind of experiment was this: Concurrent measures? Repeated measures? Posttest-only? or pretest/posttest?
b) What is the independent variable here? There are two dependent variables in this design. What are they? (Note: You might recognize the OSpan task from Chapter 8; it was used in a correlational study about ability to multitask.)
c) What results would you predict from this study? Take a moment to sketch your prediction in graph form. Then click over to the blog post and scroll to the graphs they've made of the results.Do they match your own prediction?
You can stop working here if you're studying Chapter 10. But if you're studying Chapter 12, keep reading, because there's more! The second part of the blog post is headed "Cellphone dependence as moderator". Get ready for a factorial design.
The researchers separated people into two new participant variable (PV) groups: Those who reported feeling dependent on their cellphone throughout the day, and those who did not. They then used this PV in combination with the IV of the original design.
d) Given the description, how would you state this design? (Use the form: __ X __ factorial.)
Here are the results:
- For people who reported a strong dependence, putting the cellphone in the bag or leaving it in another room made a tremendous difference for their cognitive capacity: They performed much better in these two conditions compared to the one where the phone was on the desk.
- For people who reported a weaker dependence, it made no difference where the phone was. Thus, their performance was not affected by the location of the phone.
e) Sketch a bar graph or line graph of the factorial results described above. You can do it either way, but I'd recommend putting the "cell phone condition" IV on the x-axis.
f) Do you see an interaction in the results? (You should, because the term "moderator" is a sign of an interaction)
g) Let's return to the headline, "Separation from your cellphone boosts your cognitive capacity." Does the headline seem appropriate for this study? Why or why not?
Good news: The published article on which this blog post was based is open source! You can view it here.