Time and Teens

Our students often have trouble planning, especially for long-term assignments. One issue that genuinely trips them up is their own estimates of how much time they will need for certain tasks, and how this compares with how much time they actually have. In short, their perception of time is often off.

Ask them how much time they spent doing their homework last night and they can say, “About an hour on this assignment,” when in fact, it was about 30 minutes. or less. Sometimes this is further confused by the fact that they were at their computer for some length of time, but the amount of time actually spent in MS Word working on the assignment, and how much time was spent gazing into the other opened windows on their computer screen, can be confused.

How long things felt often dominates how long it actually was. A 15 minute talk with the principal can be reported as 45 minutes (or even “hours”) with little to no sense of exaggeration. (I feel their pain, of course…)

One procedure which can help in bringing perceptions closer to reality is to have kids compare actual times with their pre- or post-task estimates. How long do you think it will take you to write this paper? And then compare the actual time.

A helpful aid in this can be found here. Rescuetime is an easy download and install which generates reports by day or week which will tell you how long you’ve been on the computer and how long working on which programs. It can be a good, visual aid to learning how much time tasks take versus how much you think they will take, as well as how long you’re actually spending with the different programs on the computer.

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