The average K-4 student is distracted more than a quarter of the time, according to a 2016 paper, Off-task behavior in elementary school children, reports Hechinger’s Jill Barshay.
Students’ attention was most likely to drift during whole-class instruction and when an activity went longer than 10 minutes, Writes Barshay.
A quarter of Instructional Activities lasted longer than 17 minutes — longer than the average adult attention span of 15 minutes — said co-author Karrie Goodwin, a Kent State professor. She suggested “divvying up instructional activities into smaller chunks.”
Classroom posters and objects drew students’ attention away from lessons, the study found. In a 2014 study, Godwin found that heavily decorated classrooms hinder learning for kindergarteners, writes Barshay.
Distractions reduce learning time and achievement, but may have an upside, writes Barshay.
. . . some psychologists have theorized that children can productively give themselves a sort of “time out” to calm themselves, and then re-engage in the lesson with renewed concentration. Experts call it emotional self-regulation. Others theorize that seemingly irrelevant conversations between peers are helping to build social bonds that allow group projects to flourish. And some theories link off-task behavior to creativity.
I didn’t pay much attention in elementary school, because I didn’t need to. Between reading under my desk and daydreaming, I was zoned out most of the time.
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