Can I Have Your Attention...Wait, What?

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Gen eds and electives are classes that many people take just for the sake of taking. Some gen eds are actually quite interesting, whereas others (like my horrible climate change last Spring...) are like death in a 75 minute class. But is there a connection between paying attention at a younger age, and having that continue on through your college years?

Snape thinks so, otherwise he wouldn't be doing something interesting!
As it turns out, the earlier that we learn to pay attention, the better we will ultimately end up doing in school, even through our college years! Researchers at Oregon State University did a little study about 430 preschool age children, and found that young children who are able to pay attention and stay focused have a 50% greater chance of graduating from college, as opposed to their peers who can't stay focused and stay on task.

Researchers conducted this study by tracking children from preschool age to age 21. The parents of the preschoolers were asked to rate their children on things like "child gives up easily when difficulties are present," and "plays with a single toy for long periods of time." The children then had their reading and math skills assessed a few years later, when they turned 7, and again when they were 21. 

The math and reading achievement tests did not predict whether or not the kids had graduated from college, but rather children who were rated higher on tasks at 4 years old on attention span by their parents had the 50% greater chance of getting their bachelor's degree by the age of 25.

With all this said, if you were a child who easily paid attention, wasn't distracted easily, and the like while in preschool, did this continue on through your high school years? And if you're one of the few seniors in the class (like me), does this have an impact on you as well? Are you fully prepared to enter the "real world" with important tasks like paying attention, keeping focus on something, and being able to be successful?

1 Comment

I think that there definitely is a connection.

Here is a graph produced by the Kennedy Keiger Institute. A little less than half of those diagnosed with ADHD were less than 10 years old. But ADHD aside, I do agree that students/young adults/have a smaller attention span than many adults.

This article here talks, in part, about the importance of a child's attention span and how they will perform later in life.

In it, the study cites that "a number of recent studies have documented the importance of attention span persistence for short-term achievement outcomes after accounting for initial achievement levels and important variables such as child IQ. For example, in one study examining behavioral regulation, the gains children made in early behavioral regulation over the preschool year significantly predicted the gains they made in reading, math, and vocabulary after controlling for initial behavioral regulation and achievement levels (McClelland, Cameron, Connor, et al., 2007)."

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