To Chat or Not To Chat: Text-Based Interruptions From Peers Improve Learner Confidence in an Online Lecture Environment

Main Article Content

Sara Goodman
Emily Moore


Technology-driven interactions are becoming commonplace, particularly as online classes, telecommuting, and virtual meetings across distances and time zones have all increased in popularity. Platforms such as Google Meet, Skype, Webex, and Zoom use synchronous audio-visual communication supported by text-based chat, emoticon responses, and other supplementary functions. Given this uptick in the use of video conferencing with dynamic integrated features, it is important to understand how attention and cognitive resources may be taxed in these environments, and what that may ultimately do to participants’ ability to comprehend the target content. In the current study, we investigated the impact of topically-relevant student-initiated text chat frequency on comprehension during an online lecture. The findings revealed that chat involvement alone does not affect learning itself. Chat activity was found to not be a distraction but in fact, a facilitator of increased confidence in learning in an online lecture environment when controlling for other outside distractions. Overall, the findings suggest that relevant chat content is not distracting, and can be helpful in reinforcing concepts through supportive examples in adjacent modalities.


Download data is not yet available.

Article Details

How to Cite
Goodman, S., & Moore, E. (2023). To Chat or Not To Chat: Text-Based Interruptions From Peers Improve Learner Confidence in an Online Lecture Environment. Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 23(2).


Alley, T. R., & Greene, M. E. (2008). The relative and perceived impact of irrelevant speech, vocal music and non-vocal music on working memory. Current Psychology, 27(4), 277-289. doi:10.1007/s12144-008-9040-z

Astani, M., Ready, K. J., & Duplaga, E. A. (2010). Online course experience matters: Investigating students’ perceptions of online learning. Issues in Information Systems, 11(2), 14-21.

Baddeley, A. (1998). Human memory. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Barks, A., Searight, H. R., & Ratwik, S. (2011). Effects of text messaging on academic performance. Journal of Pedagogy and Psychology "Signum Temporis", 4(1), 4–9.

Barnes, K. A., & Dougherty, M. R. (2007). The effect of divided attention on global judgment of learning accuracy. American Journal of Psychology, 120, 347–359.

Blasiman, R. N., Larabee, D., & Fabry, D. (2018). Distracted students: A comparison of multiple types of distractions on learning in online lectures. Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Psychology, 4(4), 222-230. doi:10.1037/stl0000122

Bourke, P. A., Duncan, J., & Nimmo-Smith, I. (1996). A general factor involved in dual task performance decrement. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology A, 49(3), 525–545.

Calderwood, C., Ackerman, P. L., & Conklin, E. M. (2014). What else do college students “do” while studying? An investigation of multitasking. Computers & Education, 75, 19–29.

Chandler, P., & Sweller, J. (1991). Cognitive load theory and the format of instruction. Cognition and Instruction, 8(4), 293–332.

Chen, Q., & Yan, Z. (2016). Does multitasking with mobile phones affect learning? A review. Computers in Human Behavior, 54, 34-42. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2015.07.047

Dietz, S., & Henrich, C. (2014). Texting as a distraction to learning in college students. Computers in Human Behavior, 36, 163–167.

Dunlosky, J., Serra, M. J., Matvey, G., & Rawson, K. A. (2005). Second-order judgments about judgments of learning. The Journal of General Psychology, 132(4), 335–346.

Gingerich, A. C., & Lineweaver, T. T. (2013). Omg! texting in class = u fail :( empirical evidence that text messaging during class disrupts comprehension. Teaching of Psychology, 41(1), 44–51.

Gray, S., Wheat, M., Christensen, M., & Craft, J. (2019). Snaps+: Peer-to-peer and academic support in developing clinical skills excellence in under-graduate nursing students: An exploratory study. Nurse Education Today, 73, 7–12.

Hacker, J., Vom Brocke, J., Handali, J., Otto, M., & Schneider, J. (2020). Virtually in this together – how web-conferencing systems enabled a new virtual togetherness during the COVID-19 crisis. European Journal of Information Systems, 29(5), 563–584.

Jacobsen, W. C., & Forste, R. (2011). The wired generation: Academic and social outcomes of electronic media use among university students. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 14(5), 275–280.

Kirchner, W. K. (1958). Age differences in short-term retention of rapidly changing information. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 55(4), 352-358. doi:10.1037/h0043688

Koriat, A. (1997). Monitoring one's own knowledge during study: A cue-utilization approach to judgments of learning. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 126(4), 349.

Koriat, A., & Bjork, R. A. (2005). Illusions of competence in monitoring one's knowledge during study: The foresight bias. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 31(2), 187–194.

Kozar, O. (2016). Text chat during video/audio conferencing lessons: Scaffolding or getting in the way? CALICO Journal, 33(2), 231-259. doi:10.1558/cj.v33i2.26026

Laberge, D., & Brown, V. (1986). Variations in size of the visual field in which targets are presented: An attentional range effect. Perception & Psychophysics, 40(3), 188-200.

Lee, J., Lin, L., & Robertson, T. (2012). The impact of media multitasking on learning. Learning, Media and Technology, 37(1), 94-104. doi:10.1080/17439884.2010.537664

Lee, J., Yoon, S. Y., & Lee, C. H. (2013). Exploring online learning at primary schools: Students' perspectives on cyber home learning system through video conferencing (CHLS-VC). The Turkish Online Journal of Educational Technology, 12(1), 68-76.

Mayer, R. E. (2005). Cognitive theory of multimedia learning. The Cambridge Handbook of Multimedia Learning, 41, 31-48.

Mayer, R. E., & Moreno, R. (2003). Nine Ways to Reduce Cognitive Load in Multimedia Learning. Educational Psychologist, 38(1), 43–52.

Mokhtari, K., Delello, J., & Reichard, C. (2015). Connected yet distracted: Multitasking among college students. Journal of College Reading and Learning, 45(2), 164-180.

Packard, B. W.-L., Solyst, J., Pai, A., & Yu, L. (2020). Peer-designed active learning modules as a strategy to improve confidence and comprehension within introductory computer science. Journal of College Science Teaching, 49(5).

Pashler, H. (1990). Do response modality effects support multiprocessor models of divided attention? Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 16(4), 826–842.

Prince, T., Snowden, E., & Matthews, B. (2010). Utilising peer coaching as a tool to improve student-teacher confidence and support the development of classroom practice. Literacy Information and Computer Education Journal, 1(1), 45–51.

Risko, E. F., Anderson, N., Sarwal, A., Engelhardt, M., & Kingstone, A. (2011). Everyday attention: Variation in mind wandering and memory in a lecture. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 26(2), 234–242.

Salame, P., & Baddeley, A. (1989). Effects of background music on phonological short-term memory. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 41A(1), 107–122.

Scott, C. R., & Timmerman, C. E. (2005). Relating computer, communication, and computer-cediated communication comprehensions to new communication technology use in the workplace. Communication Research, 32(6), 683–725.

Srivastava, J. (2013). Media multitasking performance: Role of message relevance and formatting cues in online environments. Computers in Human Behavior, 29(3), 888-895. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2012.12.023

Stoet, G. (2010). PsyToolkit - A software package for programming psychological experiments using Linux. Behavior Research Methods, 42(4), 1096-1104.

Stoet, G. (2017). PsyToolkit: A novel web-based method for running online questionnaires and reaction-time experiments. Teaching of Psychology, 44(1), 24-31.

Sweller, J. (1988). Cognitive load during problem solving: Effects on learning. Cognitive Science, 12(2), 257–285.

Szpunar, K. K., Khan, N. Y., & Schacter, D. L. (2013). Interpolated memory tests reduce mind wandering and improve learning of online lectures. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 110(16), 6313–6317.

Szpunar, K. K., Moulton, S. T., & Schacter, D. L. (2013). Mind wandering and education: from the classroom to online learning. Frontiers in Psychology, 4.

Wecker, C. (2012). Slide presentations as speech suppressors: When and why learners miss oral information. Computers & Education, 59(2), 260-273.

Wilcox, J. R. (2000). Videoconferencing: The whole picture (3rd ed.). CMP Books.

Xie, H., Mayer, R. E., Wang, F., & Zhou, Z. (2018). Coordinating visual and auditory cueing in multimedia learning. Journal of Educational Psychology, 111(2), 235-255. doi:10.1037/edu0000285

Zeamer, C., & Fox Tree, J. E. (2013). The process of auditory distraction: Disrupted attention and impaired recall in a simulated lecture environment. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 39(5), 1463–1472.