Attentional Competition in Genuine Classrooms: Analysis of the Classroom Visual Environment

AbstractPrior research in laboratory settings suggests highly decorated learning environments reduce attention to instructional tasks hampering learning. However, systematic research examining how the visual environment relates to children’s on-task behavior in genuine learning environments is more rare. Thus, it is unknown whether prior laboratory findings can be extended to genuine classrooms and what specific aspects of the visual environment might pose a challenge for children’s attention regulation and learning. This study aims to (1) provide a nuanced examination of specific elements of the classroom visual environment (e.g., visual noise, quantity of posters, color darkness, color variability, adherence to general design principles) by analyzing panoramic photographs of 58 classrooms, and (2) investigate whether specific elements of the visual environment are related to rates of on-task behavior. Results indicate on-task behavior declined in classrooms containing greater visual noise.

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