Sunday, November 18, 2012

Driven to distraction: How to help wired students learn to focus

This from eCampusNews:

Learning to live with both internal and external distractions is all about teaching the concept of focus, Rosen writes.

A recent Pew Internet amp; American Life Project report surveyed 2,462 middle and high school Advanced Placement and national writing project teachers and concluded that: “Overwhelming majorities agree with the assertions that today’s digital technologies are creating an easily distracted generation with short attention spans, and today’s students are too ‘plugged in’ and need more time away from their digital technologies.”

Two-thirds of the respondents agree with the notion that today’s digital technologies do more to distract students than to help them academically.

Mind you, we are talking about teachers who typically teach the best and brightest students and not those who we would generally think of as highly distractible.

Recently my research team observed 263 middle school, high school, and university students studying for a mere 15 minutes in their homes. We were interested in whether students could maintain focus and, if not, what might be distracting them. Every minute we noted exactly what they were doing, whether they were studying, if they were texting or listening to music or watching television in the background, and if they had a computer screen in front of them and what websites were being visited.

The results were startling, considering that the students knew we were watching them and most likely assumed we were observing how well they were able to study. First, these students were only able to stay on task for an average of three to five minutes before losing their focus. Universally, their distractions came from technology, including: (1) having more devices available in their studying environment such as iPods, laptops, and smart phones; (2) texting; and (3) accessing Facebook...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow, cutting edge stuff - texting, listening to music and bouncing on and off facebook can distract a student.

Now of course we must realize that our current environment will not support parents taking these distractions away or heaven forbid, these children self disciplining themselves. No, to the contrary, educators will be expected to pander to this short coming by creating assignments which can be done in three minutes or through an assignment which allows students to integrate these distractions into the student's work.

Back in the day, I liked talking on the one telephone on the wall with my friends, listening to my albums and going outside to cruise the neighborhood with buddies on our bikes but when it was time to do homework or study, that was what I had to do and my parents made it abundantly clear that those things were to occur without the distractions of that era.

We have given kids technology but aren't giving them guidance in how to use it, not even how to do it politely and appropriately. Just like giving an elementary school kid the keys to the car just because we drive and other primary kid's parents let them.

Very worrisome.