Monday, January 21, 2013

Time on Task

Time Since becoming a devotee of Graham Gibbs a couple of weeks ago, I've been thinking about time on task, so another paper from Ray Junco is of interest.

  • Students (and, I'd be willing to bet staff) over-report time on task.
  • Anecdote is not a substitute for data.

Comparing actual and self-reported measures of Facebook use. (2013) Computers in Human Behavior. 29: 626–631
Numerous studies exist examining how college students use Facebook and how this affects aspects of their college experience; however, all of these studies have relied on self-report measures of Facebook use. Research in other areas of human behavior has shown that self-report measures are substantially inaccurate when compared to actual behaviors. This study provides the first test of the criterion validity of measures of Facebook frequency by comparing self-reported time spent on the site and number of logins against actual usage as measured by computer monitoring software. A sample of 45 college students installed software that monitored their computer usage for 1 month. There was a strong positive correlation between self-reported and actual time spent on Facebook; however, there was a significant discrepancy between the two. Students spent an average of 26 min (SD = 30) per day on Facebook, significantly lower than the average of 145 (SD = 111) minutes per day obtained through self-report. There was a moderate relationship between number of logins and actual time spent on Facebook. Although there are some limitations of monitoring computer usage, researchers are encouraged to attempt to relate their self-report measures to actual behaviors in order to improve external validity.


  1. Where facebooking is the task? This paper seems rather to suggest that people overstate how much time they spend OFF task...

  2. The evidence is pretty conclusive that over-reporting of activity is a universal trait, including non-academic activity such as social media use.