Stop the multi-tasking; focus during class

As time has gone by and technology has flourished, it’s getting harder for students to sit through an hour-long lecture and keep their focus on the professor the entire class. With social media, relationships, work and friends, our brains are overwhelmed to the point of no attention.

Cal Newport — author, assistant professor at Georgetown University and research expert — said he thinks the ability to stay focused will be the “superpower of the 21st century.”

Most students spend their class time or study time frantically trying to keep up with texts, tweets and other incessant interruptions rather than paying attention to the professor, which just adds more stress.

According to Psychology Today, focusing one’s attention can be beneficial since a measurable amount of glucose and other metabolic resources are being used. With each task that is taken on, studies have shown that people become less effective at the next task.

A 2012 Pew Research Center survey of nearly 2,500 teachers found that 87 percent believe new technologies are creating an “easily distracted generation with short attention spans,” and 64 percent say today’s digital technologies “do more to distract students than to help them academically.”

Professors are fully aware that students pay more attention to a tiny screen in front of them than the words they are trying to resonate in our brains. This can take a toll on students academically and harm the GPAs we all strive to uphold.

There are ways for students to try to maintain better focus at school and while studying. A few lifestyle changes can go a long way for the better. TIME Magazine gives students tips to increase their attention span, such as reducing stress, dedicating time, doing only one thing at a time and meditating.

Other life hacks that can help students improve their concentration is cardio, drinking water and sleeping.

Oprah Magazine discusses a 2012 study in The Journal of Nutrition that found mild dehydration lead to inattention.

“When the brain detects even the smallest changes in physiology, it may begin operating at a sub-optimal level to get your attention,” said the study’s coauthor Harris Lieberman, PhD, a research psychologist at the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine.

Our brains are very sensitive and delicate. We can lose focus in a blink of an eye and gain it back just as quickly.

School is expensive, with thousands of dollars being spent on books, tuition and housing. If students are spending most of their time in class submerged in Instagram or scrolling down their Facebook newsfeed, they are throwing away a huge chunk of that money that was an investment towards their learning.

According to the advocacy group Complete College America, the average added cost of just one extra year at a four-year public university is $63,718 in tuition, fees, books and living expenses. Not to mention, one must take into consideration the lost wages those distracted students could have been earning had they finished on time.

Paying attention in class will save students time in the long run, because understanding the professor the first time will reduce unnecessary study hours or tutoring needed due to the lack of focus in the classroom.

There are 24 hours in a day, and we unfortunately only invest a fraction of it to studying or learning at school. Making an effort to pay attention in class is worth the results.

Opinion columnist Rebekah Barquero is a print journalism sophomore and may be reached at [email protected]

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