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Managing attention and distractibility in online learning



This is a high level article from the American Psychological Association website regarding K-12 teaching online learning.   It is directly applicable to college learning.  Though it “speaks” directly to teachers, it really can be applied to the college student him/her self as regards to issues of distance learning.  An important issue is that of “engagement” of the student in online learning.  As a student, DO YOU FEEL ENGAGED IN YOUR LEARNING?   Behavioral engagement is “on task behavior.” In a virtual environment, on task behavior may include students’ commenting in the chat function, asking and answering questions, seeking and providing help to peers, and participating in collaborative discussions. Cognitive engagement refers to effort aimed at understanding complex material or learning challenging skills. In a virtual environment, cognitive engagement may include students showing that they are willing and able to take on a task even if it is challenging (Corno & Mandinach, 1983), the extent to which they persist on a task regardless of its difficulty, and the strategies they employ to assist them while learning (Richardson & Newby, 2006). Affective engagement refers to students’ emotional reactions including showing interest in, curiosity about, or enjoyment of a task, communicating a positive attitude, and expressing the value, importance, or personal relevance of a task (Boykin & Noguera, 2011). When students are not affectively engaged, they are likely to show boredom, stress, or anxiety.”  Are you experiencing any of these issues?  If so, what can you do personally and how can you provide feedback to your instructors.    If you are a professor, then read how this article from the APA can offer suggestions for online and virtual teaching.



American Psychological Association

Coalition for Psychology in Schools and Education

September 29, 2020




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•What are some of the negative issues and/or problems with online learning?   Have you, as a student, experienced any of these?

•Students need to feel engaged in their own learning.   How does the article discuss the concept of “engagement?  What are the different types of engagement?

•If you were asked to give a lecture to college students, what steps would you suggest to them to become more engaged in their own learning?


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