A new study contradicts the widely accepted belief that classroom attention peaks during the first 15 minutes of class and then generally tapers off. Instead, David Rosengrant, an associate professor of physics education at Kennesaw State University, discovered that classroom attention is not as linear as previously thought and is actually impacted by various factors throughout the duration of the lecture.
For example, the verbal presentation of new material that is not contained within the instructor’s PowerPoint, the use of humor by the instructor and the proximity of the instructor to the student, all contribute to greater attention from the student. Rosengrant’s study also concluded that “digital distractions” such as mobile phones and the Web, particularly Facebook, are the greatest inhibitors to retaining students’ attention in the classroom. From these insights, Rosengrant stresses the need for professors to alter their lecture structure through the injection of varying activities and the use of humor to engage students.
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