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Time on Task

  • By: Stephen E. Brock
  • In: Encyclopedia of School Psychology
  • Edited by: Steven W. Lee
  • Subject:School/Educational Psychology (general), School Psychology, Educational Psychology

Time on task (also referred to as engaged learning time) refers to the amount of time a learner is actively engaged in the task at hand. According to Savage (1991), it is the time students actually spend thinking about, acting on, or working with classroom assignments and tasks. Borich and Tombari (1997) reported that high time on task contributes to academic achievement. It has been suggested that time on task is more important to such achievement than the length of the school day or year.

Despite the importance of high time on task, it is potentially harmful to emphasize these behaviors to the exclusion of all other considerations. Some important classroom tasks, which require creativity and uncertainty, produce lower levels of on-task behavior than do simple ...

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