8 Seconds?! That’s All?


Are you ready for a not-so-easy-to-believe fact? Please. Brace yourself.

The average human attention span is 8 seconds (Watson, 2015).

This is purportedly shorter than the attention span of a goldfish (Watson, 2015). Yes, that’s right. A goldish can pay attention longer than we can as humans.

Thus, imagine the uphill battle teachers face everyday trying to maintain the attention of a population who would lose staring contests with goldfish. Frightfully enough, many teachers may have their students from 30 to 90 minutes in secondary school and oft times a couple of hours in college.

What can teachers do to keep students engaged and motivated to learn?

Well, for starters, I think it to be important for teachers to understand what student engagement is. Student engagment is generally viewed as the degree to which a student feels involved or connected in various educationally related activities (Jagannathan & Blair, 2013). Student engagement is related to learning objectives; when students understand the end game, they tend to be more involved (Jagannathan & Blair, 2013).

A good way for teachers to deeply engage their students is by knowing their goals and interests and having knowledge of learning resources and systems that can help students create learning experiences that are personally meaningful (US Department of Education Office of Education Technology, 2010). Students’ should also learn by doing and focus on real world application (Jagannathan & Blair, 2013).

In order to captivate students’ attention, it is imperative to also understand motivation and what that is for the students. Motivation is a willlingness to expend a certain amount of effort to achieve a particular goal (Burwell, 2008). A great way to motivate students is to give feedback; that never seems to get old and remains ever potent (Beaudoin, 2014). The real secret to truly inciting students or just people in general is the combination of allowing autonomy, time to achieve mastery, and letting them do something purposeful (Pink, 2009).

For me, personally, my motivation for anything I do at this point in my life is both intrinsic and extrinsic. For example, my pursuit of for Masters in Education is intrinsic because I am becoming more knowledgeable and competent of my field. It is also extrinsic because I receive the reward of another diploma at the end of the process. I can emphatically say that my motivation connects with the Acquired Needs Theory that highlights individuals how have a high need for achievement (Burwell, 2008). I am that person that has a strong expectation of success, a low fear of failure, and anticipates the feeling of pride in accomplishment (Burwell, 2008).

Technology can also play a big role in enhancing student engagement and participation. Teachers need to utilize digital resources that keep students focused, busy, engaged, reflect how students normally consume information, are interactive, and can be used for independent learning (Bygrave, 2014). Some great digital resources for modern day learners are cell phones, interactive learning games, animations, pictures, videos, and blogs (Bygrave, 2014). Effective technology integration can completely transform a classroom. Contrarily, it can also be damaging. An obstacle educators face is properly integrating technology. If not done in an effective way, students will not be fully engaged and miss out on authentic learning experiences (Jagannathan & Blair, 2013).

If you’ve made it this far in the post, that means I’ve maintained your attention for longer than 8 seconds—or a least I hope I did. The main point of this post is to show you that student engagement can be achieved if the instructor understands what captures his/her students’ attention, knows what motivates them, and comprehends how to effectively integrate technology into the classroom. There. A summary of my post in less than 8 seconds.

You’re welcome.

Hopefully, you gained something from this post. After my research on how to increase student engagement, I know I will look to implement more use of video, pictures, and animation in my classroom. Moreover, I want to provide rapid and consistent feedback more regularly to my students.

Question: Do you think that humans’ shorter attention span will affect our interaction with one another? Additionally, what effects can a shorter attention span have on education?

Video: http://www.newsnet5.com/newsy/our-attention-span-is-less-than-that-of-a-oh-look


Beaudoin, p. (2014). Motivate and engage online learners all semester longCampus Technology Magazine, 27(12), 15-18.

Burwell. (2008, December 12). Motivation. [Slideshow]. Retrieved from http://www.slideshare.net/drburwell/motivation2008-presentation

Bygrave, J. (2014, December 10). Motivating learners using technology. Pearson ELT. {Video[. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5LLnzb2JJis

Jagannathan, U., & Blair, R. (2013). Engage the disengaged. Distance Learning, 10(4), 1-7.

Pink, D. (2009, August 25). Dan Pink: The puzzle of motivation. TEDTalks. [Video]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rrkrvAUbU9Y

Watson, L. (2015, May 15). Humans have shorter attention span than goldfish, thanks to smartphones. The Telegraph. Retrieved from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/science/science-news/11607315/Humans-have-shorter-attention-span-than-goldfish-thanks-to-smartphones.html

U.S. Department of Education Office of Educational Technology. (2010). Transforming American education: Learning powered by technology. Washington, DC.

Photo of Goldfish: http://www.goldfish-as-pets.com/images/dreamstime_5422385cometgoldfish.jpg

Citation for Video

Newsy. (2015). Our attention span is shorter than that of a..oh look! [Video]. Retrieved from http://www.newsy.com/videos/our-attention-span-is-less-than-that-of-a-oh-look/


Published by: Jim Lee

I am an educator by day and an educator by night! I love what I do and want to ultimately be a positive force in this world before its all said and done.

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