(Last Updated: July 18, 2022)

The stressful study, plus funny activities outside of the classroom often distract students. So, how to expand the attention spans of learners in classes? Let’s learn how to improve attention span in this blog.

Attention, please!”, “Just one more task, then you can have a break”, “Class class! – Yes yes!” Do they sound familiar to you? They are what we often hear in classes, especially in primary schools. Somehow almost all instructors get their learners to roll up their sleeves and focus. It’s because a distraction can lead to accidents. A careless reading may cause misunderstandings. In order not to miss a single detail in the lecture, learners had better stay focused.

How to Expand the Attention Spans of Learners?

Image from Freepik

However, it’s not unusual to find your mind wandering when you should be focused on something. This is even more difficult in school, especially when learning is conscious. That’s why teachers always try to expand the attention spans of learners. So what is the attention span definition? What are the ways to get the attention of students? Here in this blog, you can get more information about:

An Overview of Attention Spans

In fact, it’s hard for one to pay attention to everything at the same time. If one focuses on something, it may not last for long. In other words, each has a limited amount of time to concentrate without becoming distracted. This is called “attention span”. It is said that the average attention span by age is various. For instance, kids under 6 years old have attention spans of up to 18 minutes. Those of 8 to 12-year-old children and teenagers are longer, up to 36 and 48 minutes respectively. And the length would extend for adults. 

Another fact is, attention span depends on various factors. It can be the surrounding distractions and personal health. It also depends on how interesting the activity is. For example, take a glance at a class. While some are listening and taking notes, others might be checking their phones. Some are yawning, dozing off, or looking out the window. However, they can spend hours on social media websites or play games without boredom. This shows that personal attention span can be longer in different situations. It means we can change the environment to lengthen the attention spans of students. So, how to expand the attention spans of learners in classes? You will find out in the next part of the blog.

How to Expand the Attention Spans of Learners?

There are 2 main roles in every class: teachers and learners. Both should and can change their behaviors to expand the attention span of learners. In the following content, we suggest some effective ways to achieve that. 

What Should Teachers Do to Expand the Attention Spans of Learners?

Manage an Effective Classroom

In that kind of class, teachers establish the rules, have plans, and guide students to the right actions. They also model the behavior they’d like to see in their students. This way, they know how the class runs and don’t need to interrupt instruction. But, it is not all about that. Effectively managing a class is also building good teacher-student relationships. Teachers listen to their students, share class plans with them, and keep the class fair. Simply smile, greet students as they come in, involve them in all class activities, give them positive feedback. Don’t ignore one’s misbehaviors but focus on others’. Once students feel safe and comfortable in class, they are less distracted by school anxiety. Therefore, they can stay focused and perform well at school. 

Create Interactive Lessons

The tutorial video of Creating Interactive Solar System

One of the significant issues in higher education is boredom” (Anna & Thomas & Jill, 2020). In reality, it happens in all levels of classes. Learners often get bored of the slow presentation with a flat tone. Plus, unnecessary parts easily cause learners to shift their attention. To avoid that, teachers should highlight the main purpose of each lesson. They can add more interactive images, videos, quizzes, and so on to the lecture. The visuals and audio that they bring help learners get things more easily.  Additionally, a lesson is not a monologue presentation of a teacher. Shorten the lesson to the length of an average attention span, then, ask learners to review. Give them time for group work or discussions too. These actions require students to keep track from time to time. They have no option but to pay more attention.    

Make Better Use of Extrinsic and Intrinsic Motivation

Another way to expand the attention spans of learners is by pushing their motivations. Do your students work hard to get rewards or do they think it’s necessary to do that? The answers are related to extrinsic and intrinsic motivation respectively. Factors such as praise and rewards only contribute to external motivation. Students can build intrinsic motivation if teachers encourage them to do so. This is the most powerful form of motivation. It helps students to push their limits and achieve higher results. Inner motivation can come from absorbing the true meaning of learning, from a desire to develop and perfect themselves. Motivation is not something that is naturally born nor does it naturally disappear. The role of the teacher is to arouse both motivations of students to learn. Once having a clear target and plan, they stay focused to achieve it.

What Should Learners Do to Expand Their Attention Spans?

Take Part in Physical Activities

Image from Freepik

Exercise can improve student attention spans since it releases chemicals in the brain that affect learning and memory.  A study found that physical activity increases cognitive control. That is why schools encourage students to participate in physical education and sports classes after school. A few minutes of exercise can boost their mental and cognitive performance. The activity is simply a quick stretching or walking around the classroom. Regular exercise helps keep their body healthy, their mind more alert. It improves their memory, prevents depression too. Thereby, they have the ability to concentrate and achieve good academic results. So, do not sit in the same place continuously for the whole long lesson. Let’s stand up, go out and exercise at every break in class to have a productive studying day. 

Build Self-Discipline 

Building self-discipline truly helps to expand your attention span. Practicing a 1-hour task is an example. It enhances your focus on completing multiple tasks. It alternates the day’s to-dos and breaks. For example, you want to read all 3 documents in 1 day. Spend 1 hour on each document and 10 minutes rest afterward. You have 1 hour to do only one thing and not do anything else. There’s no choice yet to focus on it. After 1 hour, you can have a break time to do what you want. Following that way, the next 1-hour tasks repeat. Remember to stick to the time you have set. When you look back, your work has been completed to a certain extent and you still enjoy relaxing time. Putting yourself in a routine really helps you focus a lot on getting things done.

Play Memory Games

Image from Freepik

Are you a fan of memory cards or jigsaw puzzles? If so, you are improving your attention span. Similar brain games such as chess, crossword, sudoku, and board games are highly recommended to expand the attention spans of learners. Those games are fun to cultivate your ability to focus. Gradually, you can concentrate when something difficult is presented. Spend time playing memory games with other friends. They can be played everywhere at cheap costs. In particular, playing the games in the classroom will increase competition and rivalry between students. Thus, regaining agility and focusing on lessons. Besides, you can totally play those games alone or with your family at home. It’s a great idea to blow your mind and connect with people around you.

Final Words

We have suggested to both teachers and learners some typical ways to expand the attention spans of learners. Under the influence of Covid-19, it’s hard to organize classroom activities though. So, simply create interactive eLearning content to attract learners. An eLearning authoring tool like ActivePresenter accompanies you to do that. Visit our YouTube channel to learn more features and tutorials. Have a great day!

More articles:

Pros and Cons of Online Learning for Teachers and Students

Why Social-Emotional Learning in Education is Highlighted?

Best Tips for Learning and Working from Home Productively