On November 18, 2021,  the PhD Defense of Cláudia Barbosa, supervised by Luís Pedro (DigiMedia), took place. Claúdia was a PhD student from the Doctoral Program Multimedia in Education and developed a research thesis on the topic  “Media Use and Media Multitasking Habits of Students and Teaching Staff of the University of Aveiro”.

Abstract:

Digital consumer devices have penetrated our everyday lives, providing a platform to – among others – solve problems, communicate, exchange information, and participate in remote activities. This increasing popularity provides the impetus for a rising dependency to the extent that multitasking with different types of media (be it more of a more traditional or newer nature) has become a reality that can no longer be ignored in any professional setting – including the academic one.

Setting out with the main objective of identifying and understanding the media use and media multitasking habits of the academic staff and student population of the University of Aveiro, this study (using a survey methodology) has attempted to analyse in detail whether differences in media use habits exist in relation to the participants’ academic profile, scientific area, gender, age, geographical origin, and also in what concerns the type of media used. In order to do so, three media-related aspects were assessed: media ownership, media use, and media multitasking.

In relation to the association between academic profile and media use and multitasking, results of the study verify differences in the teaching staff and student groups in relation to how many media devices they own, for how long they engage in different media-related activities and how they do so, with teaching staff owning more devices, but students using media for longer periods and combining them more heavily.

In what concerns the scientific area of the participants, results indicate a higher  degree of homogeneity between groups, with the exception of ownership of specific media types (such as, e.g., Tablets in the Social Sciences and Humanities and E-Book readers in the Humanities) and a remarkably lower media use and media multitasking by the Engineering group.

Gender has been widely associated with multitasking behaviours, with results of this study indicating that females and males in our sample differ in relation to the devices owned (more ownership recorded by males), hours of engagement with different media (higher emphasis on communicative media by females) and multitasking intensity (with females recording higher multitasking values with the majority of the primary media and globally).

Recorded differences in media behaviours in relation to age are significant when either one of the older generations (birth year 1946-1964 and 1965-1980) is compared to either one of the younger generations (1981-1995 and post-1995) and vice versa. Older generations tend to use more traditional media, while the youngest generations tend towards newer media, and records substantially higher media use and media multitasking values.

In what concerns origin as a variable (as in a geographically-defined time orientation where monochronic participants tend towards doing one thing at a time and polychronic participants engage in several actions at once): monochronic participants are more associated with traditional media, while polychrons report spending more time using media in general (especially with communicative media-types) and engage in more media multitasking.

In relation to media use by type of media, the study indicates that participants tend to read and communicate with more traditional media types (print media and telephone), and play games and watch television with newer formats (online TV and online games).