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Is Technology Producing a Decline in Critical Thinking and Analysis?


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University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) professor Patricia Greenfield says that critical thinking and analysis skills decline the more people use technology, while visual skills improve. Greenfield, the director of UCLA's Children's Digital Media Center, analyzed more than 50 studies on learning and technology. She found that reading for pleasure improves thinking skills and engages the imagination in ways that visual media cannot. She says the increased use of technology in education will make evaluation methods that include visual media a better test for what students actually know, and will create students that are better at processing information. However, she cautions that most visual media does not allocate time for reflection, analysis, or imagination. "Studies show that reading develops imagination, induction, reflection, and critical thinking, as well as vocabulary," Greenfield says. "Students today have more visual literacy and less print literacy."

Greenfield also analyzed a study that found that college students who watched "CNN Headline News" without the news crawl on the bottom of the screen remembered more facts from the broadcast that those who watched with the crawl. She says this study and others like it demonstrate that multi-tasking prevents people from obtaining a deeper understanding of information.

From UCLA Newsroom

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