Weekly Digest #30: Learning and Attention
This week's weekly digest focuses on attention. Teachers (and probably parents too) know it is difficult to keep students' attention, especially with the numerous ways we can become distracted. Of course one of the larger distractions, at least from our perspective, seem to be cell phones. Certainly, we could discuss whether we should prohibit phone use in the classroom, a question that likely has different issues at varying levels of education. (For example, at Rhode Island College and UMass Lowell, there are many students who have families, and specifically young children. As Professors, how do we know what phone use is serving to check that a young child made it to day care, and what phone use is serving to check in with a friend in the next classroom over? Unfortunately, implicit bias may sway us when making judgment calls about who can bend the rules. But, I digress.)
Regardless of how we handle technology in the classroom, it is clear that attention can affect learning. Today, we provide 5 eclectic resources discussing how attention can affect learning, from discussing what we know about attention in adolescence to leveraging distraction as an advantage. The final resource diverges from learning, but we included it anyway because it is an extremely important topic in the 21st century, and affects all of us.
Concentrating on the same thing constantly throughout the day is really difficult. Why not make your time on task more efficient by taking timed breaks?
Tried the Pomodoro technique, but keep getting distracted anyway? Some research from cognitive psychology suggests this isn't always a bad thing. This piece discusses the research behind "leaky attention" and implications for creativity.
This resource discusses the research behind adolescent development and its implications for attention.
This piece cleverly links principles from the science of learning to dance, but don't let the title fool you! This one has applications that go beyond just learning to dance. In particular, number 4 discusses how novices and experts may pay attention to different components of a problem or task.
5) Texting and driving--not "It can wait," but "turn it off." By Dr. Daniel Willingham, @DTWillingham
This isn't about learning, per se, but we imagine all can agree that distractions while driving, like texting, are extremely important issues in today's world. While we're talking about attention, here's some of what cognitive research has to say about texting while driving.
Every Sunday, we pick a theme and provide a curated list of links. If you have a theme suggestion, please don’t hesitate to contact us! Our 5 most recent digests can be found here: