Reducing Effects of
This article ran as a companion sidebar to Split Decisions in the Classroom.
The following are suggested instructional strategies for the classroom to reduce split attention and its effects, combined from the work of Mather & Clark and the IEP/504 Checklist (Johnson, Hands & Voices) and my own experience.
- Gain attention of student prior to speaking or instructing.
- When calling a student’s name or getting a student’s attention, use eye contact, gaze, waving hand, tapping shoulder, or asking another student to prompt their peer.
- Request hand-raising or some other action before speaking.
- Discourage overlapping conversations (one person speaking at a time).
- Use facial expressions to show vocal inflections (e.g., raised brows for ‘yes/no’ questions and lowered brows for ‘wh’ questions, as in ASL).
- Keep visuals (e.g., interpreter, slides/movies, text on board, etc.) in the line-of-sight of deaf or hard of hearing students.
- Consider priority seating arrangements.
- Allow time and provide assistance for student to locate speaker (e.g., through eye gaze or turn taking strategy).
- Limit visual distractions (e.g., excessive movement in classroom, excessive visuals on walls).
- Periodically check for understanding (observing actions is one method) .
- Offer down-time or a break from listening and watching.
- Make use of step-by-step directions to accompany visuals.
- Consider the use of note takers (or give all students time to write notes).
- Supplement visuals with handouts student can take home to look over after class.
- Provide a printed copy of visuals to student prior to class so student can come better prepared.
- Consider a circular seating arrangement for class discussions if space allows.
- When using PowerPoint slides or other visuals, place text with images together rather than on separate slides when possible.
- When referring to something on a board, instructor should stand in close proximity to board.
- When referring to a handout, a copy of the handout should be displayed on the board/screen and the instructor should stand in close proximity and point to help student follow along.