Be conscious of Selective Attention in the classroom. Watch the following video and follow the directions precisely.
The video deals with a phenomenon called selective attention. The issue of why people pay attention, how much they do and to what is often more referred to as selective attention. In any busy scene, be it a classroom or a freeway, it’s virtually impossible to note everything at once. What a person pays attention to in these circumstances is what they select to pay attention to, though it may be noted that selection is not necessarily conscious. Selected attention can then be viewed as the process by which people find something upon which to concentrate, and the level of concentration they can continue to exert as distractions arise.
“We’re really facing the limit of human ability to cope with stimuli in our environment,” says Maggie Jackson, author of Distracted: The Erosion of Attention and the Coming of the Dark Age. And the stimuli keep multiplying. Researchers at the University of California-San Diego recently found that, on average, Americans hear, see, or read 34 gigabytes of information a day-about 100,000 words-from TV, the Internet, books, radio, newspapers, and other sources. That figure has grown more than 5 percent annually since 1980. What's worse, our coping mechanisms may increase our stress levels.
According to former Microsoft vice president Linda Stone, “People are paying continual partial attention to events, situations, and people in our everyday lives. We must live with the persuasive force of distraction confirmed by the fact that it is almost impossible to get anyone’s full attention at any one time throughout our chaotic and hectic lives."
Attention was even noted as far back as 1890 by William James remarked in his textbook Principles of Psychology:
“Everyone knows what attention is. It is the taking possession by the mind, in clear and vivid form, of one out of what seem several simultaneously possible objects or trains of thought. Focalization, concentration, of consciousness are of its essence. It implies withdrawal from some things in order to deal effectively with others, and is a condition which has a real opposite in the confused, dazed, scatterbrained state which in French is called distraction, and Zerstreutheit in German.”
The dictionary describes attention as notice taken of someone or something or the regarding of someone or something as interesting or important. It is a cognitive process of selectively concentrating on one aspect of the environment while ignoring other things. Examples include paying close attention to a classroom lecture, listening carefully to what someone is saying while ignoring other conversations in a room (the cocktail party effect) or listening to a cell pone while driving a car.
Take-away: Start all lessons with a clear and explicitly goal stated at the beginning of the activity.
Naturally, a grade could be negatively influenced if the student is confused about the directions and expectations of an activity. When giving assignment directions to students, be as precise as possible so students know exactly what is expected of them. Do not assume that all students understand the expected outcome of an assignment because you told the class once the directions to an assignment or they were written on a handout or on the board. The percentages of people noticing the Gorilla, seeing the person disappear, or noting the changing color of the curtain would certainly increase if explicitly told to do so at the start of the video.
Take away point: Whodunnit?
To illustrate precise directions at the start of a classroom activity can alter the outcome of an experience and improve selective attention, I’m going to modify how you view the following video. From the start of the video, be extremely observant of any changes that occur. The purpose of this activity is to test your awareness to detail and illustrate the importance of clear goals and specific direction before commencing on a new student lesson.
Notice by expressly stating and clarifying the directions at the beginning of the exercise, you were able to focusing your attention to seemingly unimportant details of the video. To fully illustrate the value of detailed and specific directions prior to the start of an classroom activity, show the video to another person without providing any prior instructions.
*** Teaching Suggestions ***
1. Use less text and more pictures
Why? Recall doubles when a picture is added as compared to when information is presented using just text. Hear a piece of information, and 3 days later you will remember 10% of it. Add a picture, and you will remember 65%.
Three days after instruction, the average a person will remember 10% of the oral presented information, 35% if the material was presented only visually, and 65% if information was presented both orally and visually.
Additionally, our visual short-term memory or working memory, the brain area dedicated to storing visual information, can only hold 4 objects at a time.
This video will add further insights to this topic.
2. Remember the brain pays a lot of attention to Color, Orientation, Size, and special attention to things in Motion
When you use computer animation or simulations in your classroom, do not forget to captures the importance not only of color but also motion. Studies show that simple, 2-dimensional models are effective. Additionally, if the drawings are too complex they can distract from the transfer of information. The brain pays a significant amount of attention to color, to objects in motion, to object orientation, and to movement in general. However pictures do not necessarily communicate all information skillfully, such as conceptual ideas and language arts.
*** Insights ***
Visual perception doesn’t assist in the perception of our world; it dominates the perception of our world.
Pictorial superiority effect or PSE
PSE means the more visual the input becomes, the more likely it is to be recognized and recalled. In his book Brain Rules, John Medina notes that "researchers have known for more than 100 years that pictures and text follow very different rules. Put simply, the more visual the input becomes, the more likely it is to be recognized - and recalled." Some of the research is astounding.
~ People could remember 2,500 pictures with at least 90% accuracy several days post-exposure, even through subjects saw each picture for about 10 seconds.”Moreover, accuracy rates were appropriately 63% one year later.
~ As noted above, when a person is tested after 72 hours, they remember 10% of the information that was presented orally, but only 65% of the information when a picture is added.
Why is text so inefficient? The brain sees words as a lot of little pictures. We analyze each feature in a word before moving on to the next word. Medina writes that, “data clearly shows that a word is unreadable unless the brain can separately identify simple features in the letter.” Our cortex does not recognize words; it recognizes pictures. Text slows a person down because it creates a roadblock, which affects reading fluency. To our brains, words are just many little pictures created and strung together.
For a moment consider USA Today. When USA Today was first published in 1982, some predicted it would never work. Within four years, USA Today had the second highest readership of any newspaper in the country, and within 10 years, it was number one. Its theory is less text plus more pictures equal increased sales.
Why? Pictures are a more efficient delivery mechanism of information than text. Pictorial information is initially more attractive to consumers, in part because it takes less effort to comprehend, a more efficient way to get information to a neuron.
We don’t see with our eyes, we see with our brain
The brain interprets the electrical information from the retina, and we become visually aware. But it is not a 100% accurate representation of what’s actually out there.
Our brains insist on helping us create our perceived reality. It actively hallucinates. You perceive parts of this page that do not exist, which means you’re hallucinating. Your brain likes to make things up. In other words, we actually experience our visual environment as a fully analyzed opinion about what the brain thinks is out there.
Our brain can decide to take shortcuts. It decides that speed vs. accuracy is useful in a particular situation. Most of the time, the brain favors speed, interpreting events speedily, but not logically. The rest of the time, it uses a slow, careful approach, such as in solving math/logic problem.
Below are four examples of how the brain favors speed over accuracy.
Do you see the arrow in the FedEx symbol below? Don’t see, look again and if you still don’t see it, the answer is at the bottom of this page. The FedEx symbol illustrates how the brain favors speed over attention to accuracy.
The famous ‘FedEx Logo’ is a quality example of sheer ubiquity and inspiring symbology. The FedEx logo has won many distinctive awards and is often regarded as the best creative design ever.
The photos at the top look fairly normal to most people-except for being upside down. The bottom pictures are the same images turned right side up. Now you can see that the one on the right is really weird! Both the eyes and the mouth have been turned upside down within the face. But you probably didn’t notice that when looking at the top right picture.
Third, the Kanizsa triangle
Directions: Look at the object. A white triangle has formed in the center but there is really no triangle drawn in the center.
In the picture, a floating white triangle appears although it does not exist. The brain makes sense of different shapes and put them together to formulate an object that really isn't there.
Kanizsa noticed that we see a white triangle, on top of and partly occluding disks and another triangle. The triangle, however, has no physically measurable existence although they appear to observers as significantly brighter than the background. When looking at the Kanizsa triangle, one sees the shape of a white, equilateral triangle in the center that appears to occlude the shapes around it. The nonexistent white triangle also appears to be brighter than the surrounding area, but in fact, it has the same brightness as the background.
Finally, the Necker Cube.
The Necker Cube is an example of context is everything. There is no cube, the cube is in your head.
Each eye has a blind spot, a region where retinal neurons that carry visual information gather to begin their journey into the brain. There are no cells that perceive sight in this region, it is blind in this region and you are too.
But we don’t have black holes in our field of vision that won’t go away? Why? Because the brain plays a trick on you called filling in. As the signals are sent to your visual cortex, the brain detects the presence of the holes and examines the visual information 360 degrees around the spot and calculates what is most likely to be there. Then it fills in the spot. Some believe the brain simply ignores the lack of visual information, rather than calculating what’s missing. Either way, you’re not getting a 100% accurate representation.
The brain is far from a camera. It is actively deconstructing the information given to it by the eyes, pushing it through a series of filters, and then reconstructing what it thinks it sees. Or what it thinks you should see.
Not only do you perceive things that aren’t there, but also exactly how you construct your false information follows certain rules. Previous information plays a role in what the brain allows you to see, and the brain’s assumptions play a vital role.
All visual information ends up in the visual cortex within the occipital lobe. Place your hand on the back of your head; your hand is now a quarter of an inch away from the visual cortex. The visual cortex is extremely specialized, some neurons responding only to certain pieces of information such as diagonal lines, others only to specific diagonal lines tilted at 40 degrees but not at 45 degrees. Some neurons process only the color in a visual signal, others only edges, and others only motion.
Each brain is wired differently: Our environment causes permanent physical changes in our brains
The Jennifer Aniston neuron example demonstrates the specificity of neurons and illustrates that no two brains are wired exactly the same including identical twins.
John Medina relates a story of a conscious man lying in surgery with his brain partially exposed. He is feeling no pain because the brain has no pain neurons. The reason for surgery is life-threatening epilepsy.
Suddenly, a surgeon shows the patient a picture of Jennifer Aniston and a neuron in his brain fired rapidly and intensely. The neuron responded to 7 photos of Aniston, while ignoring the 80 other images of everything else. Furthermore, the neuron fired to all images of Aniston except the one where she appeared with Brad Pitt.
Photos and drawings of Halle Berry, and even her written name activated another neuron. Although this neuron responded to a picture of Halle Berry dressed in her Catwomen costume, it did not respond to the photo of another women in a Catwomen costume. Other neurons responded to Julia Roberts, Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan, Bill Clinton, or even a famous building like the Sydney Opera House.
By using this example, Medina illustrates the principle that all brains are wired differently because “our brains are so sensitive to external inputs that their physical wiring depends upon the culture in which they find themselves.” In other words, each interaction with our environment that our brains experience changes the physical structure of our brain forever. He refers to this concept as “experience-dependent wiring.”
Even identical twins brains that watch the same movie are wired differently. He goes on to explain that, “even though the differences may seem subtle, the two brains are creating different memories of the same movie” because “learning results in physical changes in the brain, and these changes are unique to the individual.”
Use the link below as John Medina demonstrates and explains this topic.
Naturally, this interesting example has educational implications. This example is called experience dependent wiring; the brain’s wiring is determined by its experiences. Medina explains that, “we can divide the world’s brains into those who know of Jennifer Aniston or Halle Berry and those who don’t. The brains of those who do are not wired the same way as those who don’t.” This means that are brains are so sensitive to external inputs that their physical wiring depends upon the culture in which they find themselves.
Given this data, does it make sense to have school systems expect every brain to learn like every other? The data offers powerful implications for how we should teach kids. Medina summarizes the above information in the following manner:
a. What you do in life and learn in life physically changes what your brain looks like-it literally rewires it.
b. The various regions of the brain develop at different times in different people.
c. No two people’s brains store the same information in the same way in the same place.
Our ancestors were confronted with leaf-filled trees and saber-toothed tigers, not text-filled billboards or Microsoft Word. Most of the major threats to our lives on the savanna were apprehended visually. Ditto, our food supplies and reproductive opportunities. Most of the things in the Serengeti moved and the brain have unbelievably sophisticated methods to detect it.
Answer to FedEx symbol