Eye tracking student attention–the age of distraction.
An eye tracking study designed to measure the attention of students during classroom activities was released today, helping to prove that Charlie Brown isn’t the only one who sometimes has no idea what his teacher is saying.
The study was conducted by Kennesaw State University and used Tobii Glasses to measure where the attention of 8 college students was focused over the course of 70-minute college lectures. The study discovered that most students remained focused for roughly the first 15 minutes of the lecture and then began to lose it. Interestingly, there are a wide variety of factors that helped to bring the students focus back, including how close the professor was to them, the use of engaging slide presentations, and even the use of humor.
The principle researcher, Kennesaw State Associate Physics Education professor David Rosengrant, also indicated that so called “digital distractions,” like smartphones and browsing the web, were the leading cause of drifting focus.
This insight is important for several reasons. First, it disproves the previous theory that attention remained fairly consistent during the course of a lecture. Second, it allows professors to understand what they can do, like showing students their personality through humor or using more engaging presentation, as well as what Universities may want to consider doing, like banning internet use or smartphones during lectures, to improve the overall attention and memory retention of their students.
The full study, entitled “Studying Student Attention Via Eye Tracking” will be released this fall.
Do you think educators have a fighting chance against our seemingly ever decreasing attention span, or do you think students will always find a way to pay the least amount of attention in class? Let us know in the comments section below!
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