Distractibility or Attention Drifts

Possible characteristics you might see the student display

  • Inability to keep focus on tasks over a long period of time
  • Tendency to get bored, particularly during lectures
  • Easily distracted by noises, sounds or action in the room
  • Variability in performance. (Students have "good days" and "bad days")
  • Impulsivity, making inappropriate comments/noises
  • Social problems
  • Fidgetiness, squirming in seat, or play with pen/pencils, gets up and leaves frequently
  • Problems with time management and organization
  • Difficulty changing from one activity to another
  • Forgets appointments, assignment, due dates

Top 10 teaching strategies to consider

1. Have student sit in the front row so that you and s/he can make frequent eye contact. Develop a sign, signal or word that will help the student refocus when necessary.
2. Invite the student to sit near a door if s/he needs to take frequent breaks. Define the length of breaks.
3. Remind student to use earplugs if s/he is distracted during quiet work
4. Have syllabus /textbook available 3-5 weeks before the term begins so that students can preview the materials
5. Clearly define, in writing, the course requirements, dates of exams, and when assignments are due. Have it on the Instructor website.
6. Keep instructions as brief and uncomplicated as possible. Write them out.
7. Assist the student with finding an effective note-taker for the class.
8. Allow the student to tape record lectures.
9. Break information into small steps when teaching many new tasks in lesson (state objectives, review previous lesson and summarize periodically.
10. Allow time for clarification of directions and essential information.
11. Suggest to the whole class a colored coded system on the printed syllabus to highlight test, homework and reading due dates.
12. Hold the student to the LBCC Student Code of Conduct and your individual class rules. Refer to the Associate Dean of Students for Conduct Code violations or Center for Accessibility Resources for advice on lesser issues.

Check out these other resources: These are only some of the conditions that are characterized by distractibility.

If you would like to read more about this topic see Disability Services:  "Faculty Training Tips: Guidance for Teaching Students with Disabilities, Chapter 2, pages, 53-60.