James Lang - Teaching Distracted Minds: Old Challenges, New Contexts
Faculty frequently express concerns about the distractions and distractibility of our students, but our real focus should be on how we help students achieve attention. This talk draws upon scholarship from history, neuroscience, and education in order to argue that distractions are endemic to the human condition, and can’t be walled out of the physical classroom or online course. Instead, we should focus on creating educational experiences that cultivate attention. The session will unfold in two parts, with opportunities for questions and conversation after each half. Part one will provide both historical and biological context on the role that distraction and attention play in education; part two will explore pedagogical practices that we can use to cultivate, support, and sustain student attention. James M. Lang is a Professor of English and the Director of the D’Amour Center for Teaching Excellence at Assumption University in Worcester, MA. He is the author of six books, the most recent of which are Distracted: Why Students Can’t Focus and What You Can Do About It (Basic Books, 2020), Small Teaching: Everyday Lessons from the Science of Learning (Jossey-Bass, 2016) and Cheating Lessons: Learning from Academic Dishonesty (Harvard University Press, 2013), and On Course: A Week-by-Week Guide to Your First Semester of College Teaching (Harvard UP, 2008).