One study found that the average elementary school student is distracted more than a quarter of the time during class. This was as true for fourth graders as it was for kindergarteners. Off-task behavior didn’t improve with age, or with a child’s socioeconomic status.
- On-task behavior declined at the end of the school year.
- On-task behavior declined as instructional duration increased.
- Lowest rates of on-task behavior were observed in whole-group instructional formats.
- Girls were more likely to engage in off-task peer interactions than boys.
- Overall, girls were more likely to be on-task than boys.
These findings can begin to form a foundation for the development of research-based guidelines for instructional design aimed to support engagement among students in elementary classrooms.
Godwin, K. E., Almeda, M. V., Seltman, H., Kai, S., Skerbetz, M. D., Baker, R. S., & Fisher, A. V. (2016). Off-task behavior in elementary school children. Learning and Instruction. 44, 128-143. https://dx.doi.org//10.1016/j.learninstruc.2016.04.003
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