Attentional Focus and Distractibility in Low-Achieving Students: Helping Students Pay Attention

Project Number
OER 37/12 KKH

Project Duration
December 2012 - October 2016


The proposed project examines the attentional profiles of low achieving students and how attentional skills may interact with intervention. This work continues and complements existing efforts in NIE focusing on helping children with low academic achievement as well as previous work examining the interface between cognitive psychology and education. The link between attention and achievement is not new. Attention/inattention is one of the strongest predictors of academic achievement as well as mediator for its link with variables such as family environment, intelligence, ethnicity, and behavioural problems. Difficulties with attention can have widespread accumulative disadvantages on subsequent achievement if left unmediated. At the same time, academic interventions aimed at helping low-achievers may also interact with attention problems. There is hence a pressing need to identify attention problems, especially in low-achievers, and to examine interventions for possible interactions with attention problems. This is particularly relevant and complementary to work in NIE focusing on pedagogical interventions to help low-achievers. Two studies are proposed. The first study examines (a) the attention profiles of high, moderate, and low achieving students on sustained, inhibitory control, and shifting of attention, (b) how these profiles interact with the efficacy of two recently suggested approaches to facilitate attentional focus. Findings from this study will provide important information on (a) whether low-achievers have fundamental problems with attention, (b) which components of attention, and (c) how that can limit benefits from some approaches of interventions. If findings are affirmative, intervention directly training attentional skills may be required to complement pedagogical interventions. The study also tests the efficacy across achievement levels, of two approaches to aid concentration in the classroom. Positive findings will provide suggestions that can be developed into simple aids to help children pay attention.

Funding Source

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