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The prevalence and consequences of mind wandering during live undergraduate lectures

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Uploaded on Nov 3, 2015

Across two semesters of a second-year undergraduate course we examined students’ mind wandering and how levels of mind wandering relate to short-term retention and long-term test performance. We assessed frequency, intentionality and depth of students’ mind wandering by periodically presenting thought probes during almost every lecture. Student responses to these probes were collected using iClicker electronic response devices. We assessed learning by including multiple-choice quiz questions at the end of each class and by obtaining students’ midterm test scores. Contrary to commonly held views derived from laboratory studies, we found that (1) unintentional mind-wandering rates were strikingly low, (2) mind-wandering rates did not increase as time progressed during a lecture, and (3) mind-wandering was only minimally related to midterm test performance.

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