The problem with this scenario is that there is no such thing as multitasking. Multitasking is a myth that has been promoted by society to make people feel productive and efficient.
So, what does this mean if your student tells you that they are multitasking? Unfortunately, it means that what they are doing isn't really multitasking. Despite appearances, students simply can't talk on the phone, read emails, send an instant message, and watch YouTube videos all at the same time. What they are doing is serial tasking. Rather than engaging in simultaneous tasks, they are merely shifting from one task to another to another in rapid succession.
Research from the American Psychological Association describes how this kind of multitasking is neither effective nor efficient. These findings have demonstrated that when your student shifts their focus from one task to another, that transition is neither fast nor smooth. Instead, there is a lag time during which their brain must remove itself from the initial task and then move onto the new task. This shift, though it feels instantaneous, takes time.
Single tasking or mono tasking, which is focusing only on one task at a time, is a much more effective strategy to use when preparing for upcoming assessment. Single tasking starts with looking for ways to maximise your student’s ability to focus and minimise their potential distractions.
The first step is to find your student a quiet space to work. Your first thought might be their bedroom, but, though quiet, it may offer your student even more distractions when they get tired, bored, or stuck. A study or communal space, if available, is a better option. Help her to get comfortable and organised. She should ideally sit in a chair that is comfortable, but not too comfortable! Her workspace should allow her to focus on completing what is required of her.
Most importantly, have her put away distracting technology. This means no mobile phones; just having them in sight will be a distraction and the pings and vibrations that emanate from them are a significant barrier to focus. Close all irrelevant windows on their laptop, especially those related to social media. Even minimised windows are a temptation and will be a constant distraction. Encourage your student to focus on just one task at a time – this will be of the greatest benefit to them at the end of the term.