Today the New York Times has a column on Coffitivity, a free website that replicates the background noise of a coffeehouse. There is some research, referenced in the column, that a certain amount of ambient noise, like that found in an ordinary cafe, enhances one’s ability to think creativity. Color and space apparently have an effect also. Now you can replicate this environment in the privacy of your own home.
I would not be surprised if simply telling students this information produces a positive change in their work habits — independently of whether they seek out a different ambient noise level — by providing them with a reminder of the tasks they are supposed to be accomplishing.