FA16-Project 22 – Final Submission

Attention span is something that troubles young students each and everyday. There have been high levels of distraction amongst school age children that make it difficult for children to concentrate. With that being said, there is a large number of decreasing scores on exams, as well as social interaction with children. This prohibits a problem with children to achieve to the next level of their education.

With assessments and testing, there can be ways created to eliminate such a gap between learning and functioning to learn. A lot of tests focus on memorization of different items to memory. Testing a child at a young age can gradually show where and when they have difficulty grasping such educational tasks. Through memory, location, and time with sound, these distractions can show learning disabilities within children. The experiments that are shown in this exercise show different cognitive tasks measured to demonstrate how memory plays a crucial role in attention span.


This experiment was with children of school age. Samples from this population were children that attended grade school.The groups were assigned as children who appeared to have great communication and motor skills, as opposed to children who exhibited developmental skills in language and communication. All subjects who attended a public school were included. Children who did not speak or comprehend instructions in English were excluded from the study. Average range of students were from 6-15, females only for this study, who have good educational backgrounds. All the females were from different ethnicity backgrounds. Children were given passes to not have to hand in homework as an incentive for participating in the study.

Apparatus and Procedure:

With the 1st experiment, the beginning of the experiment has a bunch of household items that I have placed on a table. The object of the game is to see how many items could the kids remember and the names of the items. I first did this without the tv on.The items were shown to the children for a total of 15 seconds. They were each of them a piece of paper and a pen. They were asked to turn around and asked them to write down the number of items they saw on the table, as well as the names of the items they remembered. They were given only 10 seconds to write as many down as they could. The second time, the children had to leave the room. The same 10 items were put back on the table and moved around, not in the same location that they were first in. The children were brought back in the room, not facing the items at first. Before they were asked them to do the experiment again, the tv was turned on and the volume loud enough so it could become a distraction. They were given only 10 seconds to look at the items again with the tv on. Their answers were written down how many they got correct as well as how many they named. With the second experiment, the facilitator asks the participants to sit at a table. The participants are given a pen and paper which shows 10 lines, which is the 10 trials. Each trial starts with a number sequence. The numbers start with (3) numbers and continue throughout each trial until (10) numbers is reached. The first 2 trials are with (3) numbers, the next 2 trials are with (4) numbers, then 5-10 for the next 6 trials. This is done with complete silence. With the second phase, the same rules apply but there is music being played in the background. The participants are given another sheet of paper to complete the same 10 trials. The responses are recorded for both phases to see how many numbers they received right during both phases. For the third experiment, for the first phase of the experiment, there were only 14 pairs used. Pairs were all Aces, all Two’s, all Three’s, all Fours, all Fives, all Sixes, and all Sevens, totalling 28 cards, 14 pairs. With the first phase, the cards were shuffled. The object of the game is to pick the red pair with the red number, black pair with the black number. For example, if you picked the Ace of spade, you would have to match that with the ace of club. If you matched the ace of spade with the ace of diamonds, you would put both down and have the other participant go as you did not get them the same. When the participant did get the pairs the same, you would pick up the pair and put it on the side and then that participant would go again. The object of the game is to get the most pairs correctly. With the second phase, it is a little bit more tricky. A condition of time was assigned with the experiment. With this experiment, what was measured of the participant can accurately get pairs faster when the participants  were under pressure with time than when they were not. Same conditions apply from the first stage, but the added condition was the time. The time that was added was after they played the first round. It took both participants 8 minutes to play the first round. Therefore, they were told at the beginning of the second phase that they only had 5 minutes to get the most pairs. Data was collected the same as the first phase, with counting how many each participant received correctly with the allowed time.


For the first experiment with the tv off, my 14 year old daughter got 7 items correct and named them all correctly, but said there were only 9 items on the table.. My 11 year old daughter got 8 items correct and named 10 on the table. For the 2nd experiment, my 14 year old only got 5 items on the table correct and stated there were only 8 items there. My 11 year old got 6 items correct from the table and said there were 8 items in total.. It would be safe to say that the tv was a distraction to them, and they did not keep their attention to get all items correct. Second experiment: The first phase results for both participants varied. With participant #1, the 14 year old, the trials up to the sixth trial were correct. After the sixth trial, the numbers were not in sequence. With participant #2, the 11 year old, the trials were correct only up to the fourth trial. After the 4th trial, they were incorrect. Numbers were starting to be misplaced from what was heard. In the second phase with the music playing in the background, with participant #1, only three trials were correct, With participant #2, four trials were correct. With the first stage that took roughly 8 minutes to complete, participant (1) who is 11 years old got 12 pairs correct. Participant (2) who is 14 years old got 16 pairs correct. With the second phase, only at 5 minutes to complete, participant (1) got 7 pairs correct, while participant (2) got 8 pairs correct.


Being distracted can hinder a person’s ability to stay focused, remember things in sequence for exactly what they are, and recall things to retain memory. With the different experiments conducted, a simple noise distraction can hinder memory with a person. When time is a factor and time is running out, it also has a person panic to not remember what is being shown to them. This experiment was used with a teenager and a preteen to show how distractions can cause problems with concentration with school aged children. When children are developing study habits, they tend to get distracted from outside noise and time constraints. Solving the problem with distraction, memory, and concentration is relevant with school aged children to better help students retain information necessary for learning. Music, time, and other outside sources such as electronic devices that encompass these items are an increasingly growing issue with teenagers and preteens. Academics are being affected by this, this scores are dropping because children are having a hard time holding information.

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About Robert O. Duncan

I'm an Assistant Professor of Behavioral Sciences at City University of New York, with joint appointments in Neuroscience and Cognitive Neuroscience. I also have an appointment as a Visiting Scholar at New York University. My research interests include cognitive neuroscience, functional magnetic resonance imaging, glaucoma, neurodegenerative disorders, attention, learning, memory, educational technology, pedagogy, and developing games for education.

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