Tip #889: Avoiding Inattentional Blindness

“It’s not denial. I’m just selective about the reality I accept.” Bill Watterson

How many times does the letter “o” appear in the following sentence?

“The brain filters out objects that we’ve seen many times before when they are assumed not to be relevant to a current goal or task.”

The correct answer is eight times. You may not have seen all eight because your attention filter doesn’t always attend to data that’s too familiar to stand out- such as the “o” in out, not, to, and or.   [https://www.edutopia.org/blog/building-students-cognitive-flexibility-judy-willis]

I actually saw all eight, but I’m an English major and used to reading things very carefully.

Research on inattentional blindness suggests that unless we pay close attention, we can miss even the most conspicuous events. If we’re very focused on something we’re doing, we can miss some unexpected object or event.  We have selective attention. We see only what we expect to see.[Here is a link for a video of a classic test of selective attention:[ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vJG698U2Mvo.]

How can we help learners avoid inattentional blindness in our learning programs?

  1. Provide opportunities for learners to evaluate information and then reflect on and revise their own conclusions.
  2. Avoid language that indicates there is one single correct answer or approach.
  3. Give learners time to consider and write down their answer to a question before opening it up to the group for response.
  4. Instead of calling on one person to answer a question, ask the question of the entire group and then wait for a volunteer to answer.
  5. Present scenarios and questions that can have multiple solutions.
  6. Avoid using distracting bells and whistles on PowerPoint slides.
  7. If there is something you want learners to notice in a video, for example, emphasize what they should look for.
  8. Use arrows, a bold font, or something graphic to point learners’ attention to key information in written materials.
  9. Assign and provide directions for one task at a time, so other tasks don’t distract from the task at hand.
  10. Keep distractions to a minimum.
  11. Anticipate negative transfer and disconnect it clearly and completely.
  12. When changing a long-used procedure, provide job aids that graphically illustrate what to do and what not to do.

Question: What else can you do to avoid learners having selective attention?

May your learning be sweet- and safe.



#inattentionalblindness #avoidselectiveattentionintheclassroom

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