Understanding academic passage structure: Part 2 (Multitasking)
This is the second part of the Quiz of Academic English Basics:
- Part 2: Application of these concepts to Academic Passage (exam type of text)
If you discover challenges or questions, make sure to post them in the comments sections, and I will respond as soon as possible.
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Great Job! How did you do? Are you ready to move on and apply these concepts to Academic Reading Tasks? Let move further, where we will learn about the first type of question, Matching Headings, and apply ‘skimming’ strategies to answer them successfully.
The following questions are based on the passage below:
A.  As you’re on the phone dealing with an urgent enquiry, you’re processing the notes you took during your last phone call and at the same time you’re speaking to another colleague who’s just stopped by your desk to check something with you.  If this scenario sounds familiar, then you’re just one of many people who feel they are improving their productivity by multitasking – doing several things at once – to some degree.  And in our increasingly busy world, people who demonstrate the ability to multitask are considered to be both organized and competent.  But are we really more effective when we do more than one thing at a time?
B. Several studies have been carried out on the effects of multitasking, with one of the most famous being research conducted at Stanford University in the US. The common findings of these studies is that the human brain is not designed to multitask well. Not only does it affect personal performance, it may even damage your brain, according to one study.
C. In their study, the Stanford researchers compared groups of people based on the degree to which they tended to multitask and their beliefs that multitasking helps their performance. They found that ‘heavy multitaskers’ – those who multitask a lot and feel that it boosts their performance – were actually worse at multitasking than those who prefer to do a single thing at one time. The frequent multitaskers performed worse in the assigned tasks because they had more trouble organizing their thoughts and filtering out irrelevant information and were slower at switching from one task to another. The study found that multitasking reduces your efficiency and performance because your brain can only focus on one thing at a time. When you try to do two things at once, your brain lacks the capacity to perform both tasks successfully.
D. Research also shows that, in addition to slowing you down, multitasking lowers your IQ. The Stanford study found that participants who multitasked during cognitive tasks – tasks which required a lot of thought – experienced IQ score declines that were similar to what they’d expect if they had been taking excessive amounts of medication. IQ drops of fifteen points for multitasking men lowered their scores to the average range of a child under ten years old.
E. It has long been believed that damage to the brain as a result of multitasking was temporary, but new research suggests otherwise. Researchers at the University of Sussex in the UK compared the amount of time people spend on multiple devices (such as sending text messages while watching TV) to scans of their brains. They found that high multitaskers had less brain density in the region of the brain responsible for sympathy and understanding, as well as cognitive and emotional control, suggesting that irreparable damage had been done.
F. In the workplace, even if multitasking doesn’t seem to be having a negative effect on your brain, it will add to any existing difficulties you have with concentration, organization and attention to detail. Multitasking in meetings, for instance, and other social settings can indicate low social and self-awareness, two emotional intelligence (EQ) skills that are critical to success at work. If multitasking does indeed damage that part of the brain responsible for emotional control, as current research suggests, it will lower your EQ in the process. So every time you multitask you aren’t just harming your performance in the moment, you may very well be damaging an area of your brain that’s critical to your future success at work.
G. Keeping a check on your tendency to multitask could have welcome benefits. You’ll probably find that you achieve more, have less stress and have more energy. So what should people who are inclined to multitask do? Well, to put it simply, it’s important to stop. Plan your day in such a way that you have blocks of time for various tasks. Minimize and manage your interruptions, and aim to improve your concentration skills. You should see the benefits both mentally and physically, both at home and at work.
1. What is the passage mainly about?CorrectIncorrect
2. What is the primary purpose of the passage?CorrectIncorrect
3. Which sentence in Part A represents the thesis statement of the passage?CorrectIncorrect
4. How is the passage organized?CorrectIncorrect
5. Match the following information to the passage, where it occurs.
- An example of doing many different things at the same time.
- An unfavorable conclusion of several studies concerning the practice of multitasking on human performance and brain.
- An explanation why frequent multitaskers perform worse in multitasking compared to people to prefer to do one thing at a time.
- The effect of multitasking on IQ measures.
- The time effect of multitasking on brain performance.
- Examples of the negative effects of multitasking at the workplace.
- Recommendations on managing multitasking habits.