Attention and Listening
Attention is the ability to concentrate mentally and observe carefully. Listening refers to applying oneself to hearing something. One must pay attention in order to listen effectively, but attending is also important when doing other tasks like reading, writing, taking tests, and reviewing information.
The quality and quantity ofattention is vital to the learning process. The process of attending influences the ability of the student to move new information from sensory memory to short-term memory. One must maintain attention through rehearsal in order for information to be moved into short-term memory. Attention and listening are intricately linked to Encoding and Retrieval and Memory. Refer to those web pages in theGeneral-Purpose Learning Strategies Main Stack for additional relevant information.
The following information is provided below as background to attention and listening.
Basic Health Needs, Self-Image & Monitoring of Learning Behaviors and Outcomes
Basic Health Needs
Since the inability to pay attention may be caused or amplified by poor health, it is important that students attend to basichealth needs. This strategy is a good "first-step" to addressing attention and listening difficulties because it is fairly straight-forward, it is probably one of the easiest strategies to implement, and it may address one of the fundamental causes of attention deficits.
Health is an ongoing, continuous process. One cannot be concerned with good health one week but not the next. Therefore, it isimportant that good health habits become a part of each student's routine.
The following facets of basic health needs should be discussed and evaluated with students.
• Is the student getting adequate rest and sleep?
• Does the student have a sleep routine or is sleeping erratic?
• Is the student eating two or three balanced meals a day?
• Is the student overindulgentin junk food, cigarettes, or drugs and alcohol?
• Has the student's hearing and vision been checked?
• Has the student been evaluated for attention deficit disorder?
• Has the student been screened for affective, neurologic, or chromosomal disorders?
• Does the student seek immediate medical attention for even minor illnesses?
• Does thestudent exercise regularly?
• Does the student meet adversities calmly and rationally or stressfully and irrationally?
• Does the student confront or avoid reality?
• Does the student worry excessively?
• How does the student handle stress?
• For more information on health and the learning process, refer to Memory Condition Manipulations on the Memory page.Self-Image
A student who has difficulty paying attention and listening often performs poorly in school and social settings; this, in turn, may negatively impact his/her self-image. A student's image of him/herself can greatly affect the learning process. Find more information about self-image in the Eliminating Internal Distractions section.
The following tips may be used by instructors,advisors, counselors, tutors, and parents to help a student improve his/her self-image. Numbers 7 through 14 are from Coleman (1993, p. 90-96).
• Help the student identify his/her assets.
• Encourage the student to constantly remind him/herself about those assets.
• Heighten the student's awareness of his/her ambitions and goals, both long-term and short-term.
• Help the student todevelop a realistic plan of action for reaching his/her goals.
• Encourage the student to constantly assess his/her progress toward goals, including why or why not the goals have been reached.
• Congratulate and reward the student for completing tasks or reaching goals, and encourage the student to do so for him/herself as well.
• Take notice of and praise good behavior, including...