Archive for February 2015

Distraction and Devices: Our Research Findings and Faculty Discussion

ChallengingforWeb

What effect does our device program have on students’ distraction and focus in class? As part of our developing 1:1 environment, we conducted a large-scale Academic Technology survey in the fall to evaluate our program along many axes. Through surveying students, faculty and parents, we were able to get a comprehensive picture of the device program and its effects throughout the school as they were perceived by all of our stakeholders. One large question that our community had going into the program was the issue of how students would be affected by the potential distraction of having digital devices in the classroom.

This week, I presented some brief findings to our Upper School faculty. Following the presentation, Christina Serkowski and I facilitated two small-group discussions about the data and the larger issue of distraction and focus in class. Here is a summary of those findings, and the conversation that followed, as well as an invitation for you to help us continue this conversation.

A Widespread Concern

When we asked “What is the most challenging or difficult aspect of the device program,” a common answer emerged from all four stakeholder groups. (Click on any image to view larger size)
ChallengingforWeb

Students reported that there were really two aspects to the issue of distraction: their own ability to monitor their distraction and that of the classmates.

StuDistforWeb

Students’ comments further demonstrated these two aspects.

StuCommforWeb

The implication of this data is that while distraction is often discussed as an individual problem, the effect of one student’s distractions can reach to other students in the immediate area.

Students can be distracted by their own devices as well as those in their immediate area.

Students can be distracted by their own devices as well as those in their immediate area.

 

Faculty Discussion

Upper School faculty had a discussion following the presentation of this data, and the conversation was wide-ranging, from individual classroom strategies and potential system/school policies, to how this data changed some teachers’ view of the distraction problem. A common recurring theme was that some teachers had previously viewed the issue of distraction as personal responsibility (i.e., “If a student makes the choice to be off-task, that’s their responsibility”), but now saw the issue differently because of the effect students could have on their peers.

Comments in the faculty discussion were organized into categories in the mindmap below. The entire mindmap is too large to display here, but you can view the expanded version to see the comments themselves.

The main categories of comments in the Upper School faculty discussion. Click through to see the full summary of comments.

The main categories of comments in the Upper School faculty discussion. Click through to see the full summary of comments.

 

Further Discussion

Does this data align with your observations in your classroom? Do you view the distraction issue as one of personal responsibility, or class management? Does anything surprise you in this data? Any other observations, comments or questions? Please comment and continue our conversation below!