Thursday, November 17, 2011

Student attention span decrease with technology

By Brian L. Thomas
Cardinal Staff

In the past few years, there has seemed to be a major decrease in the attention spans of college students both inside and outside the classroom, according to Saint Mary’s University’s Academic Skills Center Director Joe Dulak.

With the ongoing invention of new technology including smart phones, iPads and the like, Dulak says not only college students, but also adults are affected.

Referencing recent articles that have appeared in the New York Times, Dulak said attention spans are decreasing in the classroom because students are not fully engaged.

“Because students are constantly checking their phones or texting, they use selective listening, catching only parts of a lecture,” he said. This often leaves room for mistakes or misinterpretation of what a professor is saying.

Students seem to agree with Dulak. Junior English major Michael Wolten says technology has affected students’ attention spans tremendously. “It’s hard to text and give a class your full attention at the same time,” he said.

However, students are not all to blame, Dulak said. “As a society, we are all in some way attached to technology,” said Dulak. “We just have to know when to turn our devices off.”

Dulak said that he has found tips to increase attention spans in the classroom, such as having his students research the effects of technology for themselves. He also recommends that students turn off their devices while studying and doing homework in order to develop stronger attention spans.

It’s becoming harder and harder for students to escape technology, said Dulak. He said that the choice may appear difficult, but the results are worth the sacrifice: pay attention today to earn better grades tomorrow.

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