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It is difficult to maintain the students' attention for a long period of time. When instructors "refocus", they give the students an opportunity to re-commit themselves.

Hi Russell,
Students need a change of pace or sequence in the learning process. After about 20 minutes the instructor needs to introduce an activity, project, or discussion so the students can refresh their minds. By keeping the delivery varied, then the motivation of students will be maintained.

I agree it is difficult to keep student attention for longer than about 20 minutes. I think modularizing the material so that it is taught in "chunks" helps to keep it more manageable for the student. Also the use of examples students can relate to helps make the material meaningful to the student.

Hi Joseph,
You have the right strategy going for you. Inform, reinforce, apply is the model that helps student acquire both knowledge and skill in the most efficient manner. The old joke about “How do you eat an elephant?” applies to teaching. The answer is “one bite at a time”. The “chunks” of information allows the students to acquire the information without being overwhelmed. The use of examples allows for reinforcement. Career colleges have the distinction of having an instructional content base that is engaging, relevant, and project based. These three components are great motivators for learning.


Hi Amir,
Glad you did. It is always helpful I think to stop and try to develop a concentration on what we are trying to do with our students and their learning.

I hear you when you say that it is hard to keep their attention for any amount of time. Our theory class is at 8 am , one of the things I do not to get frustrated is to be extra prepared. I feel that if I really am aware of what is going on I can ask the questions.. explain the methods etc. If you are stressed about a subject ask a co/worker.. have a few guest speakers and relax.... REFOCUS!!!!

Hi Carmen,
You have a challenge with starting a class at 8:00am especially since it is a theory class. I am sure that you use the segmenting approach to your lesson planning. By developing a 10-15 minute lecture or information sharing session and then an activity of application you can keep your student focused and their learning progressing.
I have found that instructors are able to keep their students engaged by having activities planned that allow the students to immediately apply what they have just been taught. This applies even to theory classes.
Your point about being extra prepared is a good one. By having extra material ready to go you can change at a moments notice if you need to, to keep the students engaged in the learning process.

Yes, i agree that it is difficult to keep the students attention for a long period of time.I feel that the instructor should take time during
the class period to do something fun with the students to help them refocus.

I really like the REFOCUS idea, it gives everyone a chance to step back and look at the overall goal and to adjust actions to get back into alignment with accomplishing the goal. It is a great tool.

Hi Jean,
This is a form of taking a big breath, letting it slowly out and then moving on. Sometimes teaching gets so hectic that I think we forget to breath. Glad you thought it was of help.

The REFOCUS idea is very important to teach mathematics.

I have yet to try this strategy. However, how do you REFOCUS when you have a set schedual?

Hi Macy,
You can look for ways to be creative within the structured curriculum and time line. I walk through the REFOCUS model in small ways looking for different examples I can use, activities for the students and ways of capturing their attention. None of these efforts take away from the prescribed curriculum. This to me is the fun part of teaching. Being able to come up with new ways of presenting the same information.

I agree, except I am not convinced about this REFOCUS strategy. It seems to me a bit too complicated. The acronym contains 7 different steps, and I will be lucky to remember 3 of them. Not very useful, in my opinion.

Hi Phillip,
Each instructor can chose what they want to use or not, that is the beauty of instructional planning so if you don't care to use it or you think it is too complicated that is fine. The key is to REFOCUS yourself some way or somehow or your instructional delivery can become routine and boring. By bringing variety into the classroom/lab both your students and yourself will keep the excitement at a higher level.

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