Psychology Major Continues Multitasking Study Amidst COVID 19 Precautions
- Thursday, September 17th, 2020
WKU senior Rachel Bragg is investigating how multitasking affects memory performance in college students. Working in WKU’s Attention & Memory Lab under the direction of Dr. Jenni Redifer, Bragg’s interest aligns with the hundreds of published articles detailing what may happen when we try and accomplish multiple tasks at once. “The initial idea for the study came from a previous student who worked in Dr. Redifer’s lab,” said Bragg, “but [Dr. Redifer] gave me the freedom to make modifications and really make the project my own.”
Bragg got to work piloting materials to test her hypothesis prior to spring break, but when COVID 19 precautions were abruptly put into place state-wide, progress came to a halt. “Prior to spring break, we posted timeslots on Study Board and had quite a few students signed up to participate, but we were unable to come back to campus,” said Bragg.
This didn’t stop the future occupational therapist from implementing a solution to conduct her study. After receiving Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval to transition the project to an online format, Bragg and her team were able to continue their work. Prior to COVID 19, the team planned to have participants use both a computer and a tablet to gather data in the laboratory; however, they knew those guidelines were no longer realistic for students completing this study at home. To adjust, they transitioned to Zoom and smartphone format, to allow participants to communicate with researchers over Zoom while using their smartphones to complete study tasks.
Once data collection is complete, Bragg plans to publish her findings in a research article. Although she is following in the footsteps of other multitasking researchers, Bragg’s results will contribute to the field of cognitive psychology by providing new information about specific types of multitasking that are similar to college students’ everyday activities.
Bragg is completing a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and actively participates in WKU’s Christian Student Fellowship. When she isn’t in the research lab, the Lexington, Kentucky, native enjoys outdoor activities including hiking and running.
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