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Attention Management as a Fundamental Aspect of 21st Century Technology Literacy: A Research Agenda

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

Computer-Based Learning Models

Tagged Division

Computers in Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.218.1 - 24.218.13

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Paper Authors

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Mihaela Vorvoreanu Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Attention Management as a Fundamental Aspect of 21st Century Technology Literacy: A Research AgendaThe purpose of this paper is threefold: 1) To raise awareness and make an argument about the importance of attention management as a fundamental aspect of contemporary technology literacy; 2) To review current solutions for training executive attention and integrating this training into education at various levels 3) To propose a set of solutions and ideas for a research agenda for integrating the training of executive attention into undergraduate education as a form of technology literacy. The Center for Public Education report “Defining a 21st Century Education” identifiestechnology as the primary driver of changes in our society and names technology literacy as oneof the most important literacies of our age (Jerald, 2009). The strategic importance of technologyis recognized by the National Science Foundation, which considers technology essential, notoptional, for STEM education (Atkins et al., 2003) and recognizes that for the first time inhistory, “’online’ will be the dominant operating mode for individuals” (National ScienceFoundation Cyberinfrastructure Council, 2007, p. 39). The National Science Foundation and theNational Academy of Engineering have recognized the need to teach and learn with technology(cyberinfrastructure) and to acquire technological competencies as a top priority for U.S. STEMeducation and workforce development (Borgman et al., 2008; National Academy of Engineering,2004; National Science Foundation Cyberinfrastructure Council, 2007). The“Cyberinfrastructure for education and learning for the future: A vision and research agenda”report to the National Science Foundation argues that technology-based education must extend toall areas and settings of life, both formal and informal (Computing Research Association, 2005). 1At the same time, nationally recognized experts agree that the integration of technology ineducation is not without dangers: “as innovations multiply, so do dangers” (Boyer, 1998, p. 26).Technological competencies include not only the skills needed to operate informationtechnology, but also critical consideration of “privacy, social, cultural, ethical, and ownershipissues associated with increasing use of cyberinfrastructure for learning, research, andscholarship” (National Science Foundation Cyberinfrastructure Council, 2007, p. 39). Achievingsuccessful results such as scientific and engineering innovation with technology requires morethan operating tools: it demands “an ability to understand tools and media critically” (Mitchell,Inouye, & Blumenthal, 2003, p. 4). Experts agree that educational institutions need to “helpyoung people learn how to use information technology more responsibly, reflectively, andeffectively in different areas of life” (Jerald, 2009, p. 45). This project addresses the strategicneed identified in national reports to extend technological competencies beyond tool operationby building fundamental knowledge and skills about the management of an individual’sattentional resources with respect to information technology use. Questions addressed are: Whatis the importance of managing one’s attention in a culture of multiple technology stimuli? Whatare the costs of distraction, multitasking, task-switching, and inability to sustain deep focus?How can research of cognitive load (Mayer & Moreno, 2003; Moreno & Valdez, 2005; Sweller,van Merrienboer, & Paas, 1998; Tabbers, Martens, & van Merrienboer, 2004) and attentiontheory (Wickens & McCarley, 2008) be used to educate students about their own attention andhelp them train it? ReferencesAtkins, D. E., Droegemeier, K. K., Feldman, S. I., Garcia-Molina, H., Klein, M. L., Messerchmitt, D. G., . . . Wright, M. H. (2003). Revolutionizing science and engineering through cyberinfrastructure: Report of the National Science Foundation Blue-Ribbon Advisory Panel on Cyberinfrastructure.Borgman, C. L., Abelson, H., Dirks, L., Johnson, R., Koedinger, K. R., Linn, M. C., . . . Salen, K. (2008). Fostering learning in the networked world: The cyberlearning opportunity and challenge: National 2 Science Foundation.Boyer, E. L. (1998). The Boyer Commission on Educating Undergraduates in the Research University, Reinventing undergraduate education: A blueprint for America's research universities. Stony Brook, N.Y.Computing Research Association. (2005). Cyberinfrastructure for education and learning for the future: A vision and research agenda: Computing Research Association.Jerald, C. D. (2009). Defining a 21st century education: The Center for Public Education.Mayer, R. E., & Moreno, R. (2003). Nine ways to reduce cognitive load in multimedia learning. Educational Psychologist, 38(1), 43-52.Mitchell, W. J., Inouye, A. S., & Blumenthal, M. S. (Eds.). (2003). Beyond productivity: Information, technology, innovation, and creativity. Washington, D.C.: National Academies Press.Moreno, R., & Valdez, A. (2005). Cognitive load and learning effects of having students organize pictures and words in multimedia environments: The role of student interactivity and feedback. Educational Technology Research and Development, 53(3), 35-45.National Academy of Engineering. (2004). The engineer of 2020: Visions of engineering in the new century: National Academy of Engineering.National Science Foundation Cyberinfrastructure Council. (2007). Cyberinfrastructure vision for 21st century discovery: National Science Foundation.Sweller, J., van Merrienboer, J. J. G., & Paas, F. G. W. C. (1998). Cognitive architecture and instructional design. Educational Psychology Review, 10(3), 251-296.Tabbers, H. K., Martens, R. L., & van Merrienboer, J. J. G. (2004). Multimedia instructions and cognitive load theory: Effects of modality and cueing. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 74(1), 71- 81.Wickens, C. D., & McCarley, J. S. (2008). Applied attention theory. Boca Raton, FL: Taylor and Francis. 3

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