The Big Problem With Little Interruptions In The Classroom

Jared Cooney Horvath is a globally recognized Science of Learning expert committed to helping teachers, students and parents achieve better outcomes through applied brain and behavioral science.

Classroom Disruptions

PA announcements, incoming phone calls, unscheduled staff visits, tardy students, fire drills, singing telegrams …


These are just some of the many external interruptions that have become part and parcel of classroom teaching.


And sure, they can be endlessly annoying -- but there’s a bigger issue at stake:


Just how much do these external disruptions impact student learning and performance?


In my newest 'From Theory to Practice' video, I examine a research article that aims to answer this very question:


The Big Problem with Little Interruptions to Classroom Learning (Matthew A. Kraft and Manuel Monti-Nussbaum, May 2020)


Here are some of the questions I tackle in this installment:

  • On average, how many external interruptions occur during a normal school day … and how much learning time is lost as a result?

  • According to the research, do regular disruptions correlate to poorer learning performance?

  • What are three big ideas for teachers when it comes to combating external interruptions?

  • If you think interruptions might be a problem in your school, what steps can you take to document/mitigate the problem?

Give it a watch, and let me know what you think in the comments.


And, as always, if you find this video valuable, interesting and/or entertaining, you can support us by liking, sharing and subscribing to our YouTube channel ;)



Video Transcript

Hello everybody, and welcome to this week's From Theory to Practice, where I take a look at the research so you don't have to.


The article I've selected this week is The Big Problem with Little Interruptions to Classroom Learning by Kraft and Nussbaum.


Now, if you've ever done any work with me in the past, you already know that attention is key to learning. If you ever want to learn, remember or understand anything, focused attention is your gateway.


Now interestingly, even small distractions can be incredibly detrimental to learning ...

Click to view remainder of the transcript ...

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