Faculty concerns about distracted students intensified as we shifted online, but maintaining student attention has always been a challenge. This keynote draws upon scholarship from history, neuroscience, and education to show 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 and sustain attention. Participants will learn about a variety of pathways to developing such experiences for their students.
James M. Lang is a Professor of English and the Director of the D’Amour Center for Teaching Excellence at Assumption College in Worcester, MA. He is the author of five 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), Small Teaching Online: Applying Learning Science in Online Classes with Flower Darby (Jossey-Bass, 2019), and Cheating Lessons: Learning from Academic Dishonesty (Harvard University Press, 2013). Lang writes a very influential monthly column on teaching and learning for The Chronicle of Higher Education; his work has been appearing in the Chronicle since 1999.