Flow in multitasking : the effects of motivation, artifact, and task factors




Park, Ji Hyun, active 21st century

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The aims of this dissertation study are 1) to examine how the interplay of motivation, artifacts, and task interconnectedness affect users' flow experience, 2) to understand users' multitasking patterns by analyzing approaches and strategies in multitasking environments through a participatory design session, and 3) to come up with design insights and implications for desired multitasking environments based on findings from the quantitative and qualitative data analysis and synthesis. This dissertation employed the PAT (Person-Artifact-Task) model to examine factors that affect users' flow experience in computer-mediated multitasking environments. Particularly, this study focused on users' flow experience - sense of control, focused attention, curiosity, intrinsic interest and interactivity - in the context of multitasking. The dissertation begins with perspectives on human multitasking research from various disciplines. Emphasis is placed on how researchers have defined the term multitasking and the scope of previous multitasking research. In addition, this study provides definitions of the term task switching, which also has been used to describe human multitasking. The second section of this dissertation focuses on the literature, which characterizes factors and theoretical frameworks of human multitasking research. In this section, human multitasking factors were classified into internal and external factors to analyze factors from the micro to the macro perspective. More detailed definitions and comparisons are also addressed. To summarize and conclude the literature review, this study provides a synthesis framework of internal and external factors of human multitasking contexts. In section III, this dissertation introduces theoretical frameworks that include the constructs of the PAT (Person-Artifact-Task) model and flow model. The next three sections present the research design and two research methods - the experiment and participatory design. The results and discussion section includes the implications of interpreting people's flow experience with motivation, artifact (technology affordance type), and task interconnectedness through the PAT model. The study findings and implications should extend our understanding of multitasking behaviors and contexts and how the interplay of person, artifact, and task factors affects humans' flow experience. A concluding chapter explores future work and design implications on how researchers and designers can take contextual factors into consideration to identify the most effective multitasking in computer-mediated environments.




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