Skip to main content
Social Sci LibreTexts

3.4: Attention Regulation

  • Page ID
  • \( \newcommand{\vecs}[1]{\overset { \scriptstyle \rightharpoonup} {\mathbf{#1}} } \) \( \newcommand{\vecd}[1]{\overset{-\!-\!\rightharpoonup}{\vphantom{a}\smash {#1}}} \)\(\newcommand{\id}{\mathrm{id}}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \( \newcommand{\kernel}{\mathrm{null}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\range}{\mathrm{range}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\RealPart}{\mathrm{Re}}\) \( \newcommand{\ImaginaryPart}{\mathrm{Im}}\) \( \newcommand{\Argument}{\mathrm{Arg}}\) \( \newcommand{\norm}[1]{\| #1 \|}\) \( \newcommand{\inner}[2]{\langle #1, #2 \rangle}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \(\newcommand{\id}{\mathrm{id}}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \( \newcommand{\kernel}{\mathrm{null}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\range}{\mathrm{range}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\RealPart}{\mathrm{Re}}\) \( \newcommand{\ImaginaryPart}{\mathrm{Im}}\) \( \newcommand{\Argument}{\mathrm{Arg}}\) \( \newcommand{\norm}[1]{\| #1 \|}\) \( \newcommand{\inner}[2]{\langle #1, #2 \rangle}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\)

    Authors: UQx LEARNx team of contributors

    Attention Regulation

    Click here to watch video lecture (10:48 minutes)

    Video summary: Practical strategies teachers can use to develop attention leading to motivation for deep learning in the classroom:

    Practical strategies teachers can use to develop attention leading to motivation for deep learning in the classroom:

    How can teachers assist students when they display, low motivation for effortful work?

    These students require considerable scaffolding of the use of helpful thinking, by raising awareness of their own thoughts and helping them to understand that their thoughts have a critical impact on their performance, feelings, learning and social behaviors.

    The next step is to reframe these unhelpful motivational states by helping students to develop productive ways of thinking through positive self-beliefs, and looking for the importance, value and possible interest in the learning task.

    Set children up for success by providing tasks of ‘medium effort’. ‘Big effort’ tasks are overwhelming and invite unhelpful thinking, off-task behavior, or work avoidance.

    It is more helpful to provide two tasks of ‘medium effort’ than to give one ‘big effort’ task in supporting best efforts, persistence, and helpful thinking.

    Teachers can prompt for attention and focused listening prior to giving an instruction and be aware of background noise and distractions.

    A settling of physical activity is considered a defining feature of attention and reflective learning. Prompting children to check their physical activity and brain energy prepares them for listening.

    Consider providing information or instructions in both verbal and visual formats where possible to help children retain key details. Images; graphs and charts; mind maps; visual schedules; step planners; infographics; and visual reference keys are all excellent models.

    The cooperative liaison between home and school is particularly important to children’s learning of organizational skills and strategies. Daily organizational systems can be shared with parents. These might include organizing school bags with specific pockets for lunch, permission slips and library book; organizing schoolwork with color-coded books; or organizing desk and work area.

    The use of step planners helps children develop a metacognitive perspective. Step planners outline all the steps involved in a task, reinforce verbal instructions, and reduce working memory demands. Step planners could be completed on the classroom whiteboard or a small whiteboard on a child’s desk, with an arrow or number to indicate each step.

    In today’s world, the ability to focus is quite a challenge with so many competing distractions that are vying for our attention. Some say that we are living in a state of continuous partial attention and that our attention is in radar mode, divided by multitasking and distractions.

    This brief sketch of the neural networks of attention serves as a baseline for understanding the critical importance of regulating student’s attention for classroom learning. With these important skills, students are attentionally focused and ready for deep learning.


    3.4: Attention Regulation is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by LibreTexts.

    • Was this article helpful?