Focus Carolina

Focus On: Jeffrey Greene

Jeffrey Greene in the School of Education researches how students learn in a digital environment. Listen to learn more about his research and other Carolina faculty on Focus Carolina

Jeff Greene sits in a classroom
UNC School of Education associate professor Jeff Greene sits in a classroom at Peabody Hall on June 26, 2017, in Chapel Hill. Greene

As a professor and associate dean in Carolina’s School of Education, Jeffrey Greene researches how students learn in digital environments, specifically their self-regulated learning. This includes how students’ knowledge, beliefs and characteristics influence their ability to monitor and control their learning. 

While the internet is a valuable resource, Greene believes students need to have a plan for how to use it effectively so they will think critically and check the reliability of online sources.

One of the big challenges about learning online is that there’s so much information and so many information sources. Before this, humans had access to curated sources. There were teachers or journalists or adults who would say, ‘Read these things and not those things.’ The internet opens all that up. It’s a challenge for us to figure out what to pay attention to. 

People are not necessarily very good at understanding how they learn, according to Greene. After students attend primary and secondary schools, they find college can be quite different. Reaching students then and implementing effective learning tactics can be beneficial for their success. 

The good news is that most students recognize that it’s helpful. You can learn how to learn. It’s not rocket science. It takes some practice. It takes support. It takes some time, but people can learn to be more effective learners.

People who can study for eight hours straight with no breaks are rare, says Greene. Others may do better studying for 50 minutes, then taking a five-minute break.

Try to think about something else. Walk around and let your mind wander a little bit. Often, when we tell students to test themselves with flashcards, we actually tell them to do that after a 10-minute break.

Multitasking — the ability to work on several projects simultaneously — is a misconception, Greene said.

It’s not something that humans do. Humans do one thing at a time very well consciously. Students who are working on a paper, then get a text and then go back to work on the paper are not multitasking. They’re single-tasking and switching between tasks. Every time you switch, you get a little distracted.

Online gaming and social media distract students from learning, but Greene does not advocate taking technology away from them.

We need to teach students how to use technology more effectively and learn how to control it.



Every day, Carolina faculty members engage in groundbreaking research, innovative teaching and public service that impacts in our community and the state, nation and the world.

Tune in to Focus Carolina during morning, noon and evening drive times and on the weekends to hear their stories and find out what ignites their passion for their work. You can listen to WCHL at 97.9 FM or 1360 AM. The interviews will also be available anytime online at under the Focus Carolina tab.







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