The Attention Span, or What’s Left of It

I have always had problems when it came to having a decent attention span. My mind wandered off, dreaming of adventures. Or lunch. Over the years I have learned to develop my attention span to allow me to be successful in the classroom and life (in general). I have also had to work with students (including my own daughter) who seemed to have the same problems of maintaining their attention span, and I know it’s a tough task to keep them focused.

For my research on this week’s blog, I found out something very interesting about today’s students and their attentions spans. It seems, according to various research, that students today have the attention span on par with a goldfish, or about eight minutes. Technology and the way it is used is the reason that there has been a four-minute drop in attention spans in the decade or so, according to some researchers.

Now, two questions come to mind as I am bringing this up: 1) How does this affect the teacher/professor/instructor when it comes to engaging students, and 2) How can I mitigate the effects? Well, I think we all know how it affects everyone in the classroom when we have goldfish as students: difficulties in progressing to higher-level discussions as basic concepts haven’t been grasped (maybe), slowing down of the class due to repeated instruction, and so on. The key is in the second question – how can help our students with this issue. Well, there are many ways (way too many to discuss here, as my blog would turn out to be something that takes longer than eight minutes to read). Listed below are some great web pages to read over and get some ideas. And, as a bonus, they are short articles!

Human Attention Span Shortens To 8 Seconds Due To Digital Technology: 3 Ways to Stay Focused
http://www.medicaldaily.com/human-attention-span-shortens-8-seconds-due-digital-technology-3-ways-stay-focused-333474

Tips for College Educators: How to Hold Student’s Attention?
http://collegepuzzle.stanford.edu/?p=4628

The Eight-Minute Lecture Keeps Students Engaged
http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/instructional-design/the-eight-minute-lecture-keeps-students-engaged/

Steve Holsonback
Instructional Media Design Specialist
Center for Academic & Professional Excellence
John.Holsonback@victoriacollege.edu
Ext. 3425

 

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