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How Instructional Design, Academic Motivation, and Self-Regulated Learning Tendencies Contribute to Cyber-Slacking

Abraham E Flanigan, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Today’s traditional-aged college students spend several hours each day using their smart phones, iPads, and laptops. Although scholars initially believed these students—commonly referred to as the Net Generation—would leverage their nearly unlimited access to technology for professional and academic betterment, research suggests otherwise. Instead of using mobile technology as tools for success, college students frequently use mobile phones and laptops for off-task purposes while attending classroom lectures or doing schoolwork outside of class—a phenomenon known as cyber-slacking. Although much is known about the frequency, causes, and consequences of cyber-slacking, important gaps in the literature exist. The purpose of this dissertation was to understand the factors associated with classroom cyber-slacking. First, although college students have frequently self-reported a reduction in classroom cyber-slacking when instructors provide active learning experiences, no known studies have tested this relationship. Therefore, this dissertation included a quasi-experimental study that compared the live classroom cyber-slacking behaviors of college students who attended actively and passively presented lectures. Second, little is known about how academic motivation and self-regulation of learning tendencies relate to classroom cyber-slacking. Therefore, this dissertation surveyed college students about their academic motivation, self-regulation tendencies, and cyber-slacking behaviors to examine the linkages among these constructs. Findings from the present studies reinforce the notion that cyber-slacking is commonplace in college classrooms and negatively influences student attention and learning. Although instructional design did not influence cyber-slacking behaviors, student interest in course content and perceptions of the instrumentality of course content for achieving their academic or professional goals were identified as cyber-slacking catalysts. Moreover, the present research indicated that students who lack academic motivation or who are poor self-regulators of their own learning processes are especially vulnerable to cyber-slacking’s temptation.

Subject Area

Educational psychology

Recommended Citation

Flanigan, Abraham E, "How Instructional Design, Academic Motivation, and Self-Regulated Learning Tendencies Contribute to Cyber-Slacking" (2018). ETD collection for University of Nebraska-Lincoln. AAI10792552.