My Own book/Attention

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We are now ready to learn about another factor affecting learning in our module on ATTENTION

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At the end of this module on attention, you will

(i) understand how attention affects learning
(ii) understand the relationship between attention and interest
(iii) suggest ways to improve attention of learners in the classroom
(iv) understand problems associated with attention

Carry out the following activity.

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Try to focus on one object in front of you. Do this for about a minute. What were you trying to do? Did your consciousness fluctuate from the object of focus to other objects?

You were trying to concentrate your consciousness on one object. You were attending to that object.

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Ross: Attention is the act of selective consciousness
Dumville:Attention is the concentration of consciousness upon one subject rather than another.

Characteristics of attention
•Attention is focusing consciousness on one object. One object is the focus of attention. All other objects are in the margin of attention.(Right now, what is the focus of your attention? what objects are in the margin of your attention?)
•Attention is selective. We choose to attend to one object in preference to others.
•Attention is constantly shifting from focus to margin
•Attention is a state of preparedness where the muscles and sense organs ready themselves for attending
•Attention cannot be divided between two mental tasks.

There are several factors that affect attention.
Objective factors:These are factors inherent in the object of attention

  1. Movement: Eg...An animated picture elicits more attention than a still picture
  2. Size of an object: Eg...Large letters attract more attention than tiny font.
  3. Contrast:Eg...Dark letters stand out against a light background.
  4. Colour: Eg...Colours, especially bright ones, gain more attention than drab colours
  5. Novelty:Eg..A new gimmick in advertising is an instant hit
  6. Change in stimulii: Eg.... If the clock suddenly stops its ticking, it is likely to attract attention.If a teacher pauses in the midst of the lecture, the students are likely to pay more attention to the next few words
  7. Intensity: Eg...A glaring light, a sharp sound, fluorescent markers serve as attention grabbers.
  8. Repetition: Eg... Words of a song that are repeated or words in a lecture that are repeated attract attention.

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Attend a lecture given by a teacher/ colleague and pick out all those actions that were attention gaining.Why did they gain your attention?

Alternatively pick up a magazine and look out for things that caught your attention. Identify the objective factors behind this. Share your views on

There are also some subjective factors that affect learning. These are factors inherent in the subject. For example :If I attend to a news item about Wikieducator, it is due to some factor present in me.It is because I am interested in Wikieducator. Thus interest is a subjective factor affecting attention.Read the following case study and identify the subjective and objective factors affecting attention.

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Case Study
Teena is a teacher who teaches History in Grade Seven. It is typical July day in Mumbai (that's where Teena teaches). It is pouring heavily. Morris is worried if he will be able to get home. Scenes of flooded roads and submerged vehicles flash before him.His aunt was a victim of the terrible 2006 floods. Dheeraj is hungry... Rainy days always do that to him and the aroma of roasted corn wafting through the windows somehow tickles his nostrils. Shalini couldn't be bothered by rain nor the culinary specialties that Mumbai rains represent. She loves History and is all ears when Teena narrates the events of the National Uprising. Mohan is listening to Teena but not out of interest. It is just that he wants to top the class in all subjects. So though History is not his favourite subject he pays attention just for 'those marks and those tests'. Teena stops her narration and announces "...and now we have a puppet show to give you an idea of how Rani Laxmibai fought her aggressors." Immediately Dheeraj forgets his hungry stomach and turns to the puppet show. But not Morris.... he is still plagued by the scenes of the flood.

What factors of attention did you notice? In Morris' case it is an internal factor (worry, mental set, past experience)that keeps his attention focussed on the pouring rain. In Dheeraj's case it is an objective factor(intensity of the aroma of corn) that gets his attention coupled with an internal physiological factor(hunger)that makes him attend to the corn being roasted. However the novelty of the puppet show is able to help him switch over his focus of attention.In case of Shalini, it is interest that makes her attend to the lesson. For Mohan, it is an inner drive to succeed that results in his paying attention. Did you notice factors affecting attention could be object based(objective factors) or person based (subjective factors). Some subjective factors are:

  1. interest
  2. mental conditions
  3. attitude of the learner

Relationship between Interest and Attention
Interest is latent attention. Attention is interest in action. Interest is learning ensures that the learner pays attention. Read more at

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Recollect any interesting technique used by you during your practice lessons. Did the students pay attention because they were interested? Share your activity and its impact on students on

Deeper Learning

If you are interested in knowing more about attention you may read about Problems associated with attention. See
See this video
Take this online test and find about your own attention span . See

Humour in learning

Check these cartoons.

Keep smiling!