Date Approved


Embargo Period


Document Type


Degree Name

M.A. School Psychology


Educational Services and Leadership


College of Education

First Advisor

Allen, Terri


Rest periods; Academic achievement


School Psychology


Researchers have recently explored using brief breaks to maintain performance during prolonged tasks (Ariga and Lleras, 2011). However, research has yet to fully explore the effect of break activity content on the performance of the primary task. The present study sought to explore the differing effects of two break activities that were respectively similar and different in content to the main task. The present researcher compared past studies of task-switching and interruption studies to theories of the vigilance decrement and hypothesized that a brief similar task should result in significantly different main-task performance than the brief dissimilar task. 20 participating Rowan students were randomly divided into two groups based on the break activity they would be assigned: content-related or content-unrelated. The participants were given a 20 minute quantitative reasoning test, followed by either a quantitative reasoning (content-related) or literacy-based (content-unrelated) break activity. After 5 minutes of this activity, participants were given a second 20 minute quantitative reasoning test. Scores of all tests were measured using a two-way ANOVA with repeated measures. Participants that participated in content-unrelated break activities were found to have significantly different test scores from those of participants given content-related activities.