Explain Attention in details


Attention is the major aspect involved in all the mental activities. We must attend before we know, feel or act. It is a characteristic of conscious life. It is the concentration of consciousness upon one object rather than another.

Definition of Attention

J.S. Ross: “Attention is a process of getting an object of thought clearly before the mind.”.

Dum Ville: “It is the concentration of conscience upon one object rather than upon another. It is essential element in all creative activities.”.

There are 2 fields of attention

  1. Attention (Focus of Consciousness).
  2. Inattention (Margin of Consciousness).

Factors that control Attention

a). Objective / External Factors: Are those conditions affecting attention which is concerned with the environment.

  1. Intensity: A strong stimuli is more likely to be noticed than a weak one, like a loud noise to a whisper or a bright light to a dull lamp.
  2. Size: A large object will draw attention more readily than a small one. Writing should be of appropriate size on the black board. A big advertisement or a tall building easily attracts our attention.
  3. Repetition: Very often in the classroom, the teacher respects the content or makes the child repeat by doing drill work. This helps in attracting attention. For e.g. the alarm bell of a clock would go unnoticed if it strikes only once.
  4. Change: To attract attention, change should not be a gradual one but a sudden one. A speaker modulates his voice to attract the attention of his audience.
  5. Movement: A moving object readily catches attention a child’s attention is always attracted by a moving toy rather than by a steady toy. In a classroom, showing a film or T.V. helps in captivating the attention of the students.
  6. Contrast: Anything that is different from its surroundings is likely to stand out and catch the eye.

E.g. Use of colored chalks for writing / underlining on the black board.

  1. Novelty: Anything that is new, novel as well as strange attracts attention. The teacher should make use of Novel ideas, sides, films & videos. Incorporation of new technology & new methods of teaching helps to capture attention.
  2. Variety: Variety means using various methodologies to retain student’s attention.
  3. Mysteriousness: It is evident that when an element of mystery enters normal or common place behavior, attention is directed towards it at once.

b). Subjective / Internal Factors:.

Those conditions of attention which are within the individual are called subjective factors. They are:.

  1. Motives – like hunger, thirst, sex, anger etc.
  2. Interest.
  3. Mindset / Attitude.
  4. Moods.

Interest is the most important factor because we attend to those objects in which we are interested.

Without interest, teacher fails to arouse attention & sustain it.

Interest & Attention are 2 sides or the same coin.

Types of Attention –

Attention can be divided into groups namely Non- Voluntary or Non- Volitional & Voluntary or Volitional.


  • Involuntary(Non-Volitional) .
    1. Enforced(Instincts).
    2. Spontaneous (Sentiments) .
  • Voluntary (Volitional) .
    1. Implicit .
    2. Explicit

Involuntary (Non-Volitional)

  1. When we attend naturally, easily spontaneously & without effort attention is said to be involuntary or non volitional.

E.g. when there is a loud sound we hear it without effort.

  1. This stimulus forces itself upon us & we pay attention. The quality of intensity & attracts attention.
  2. This type of attention is determined by instinct & therefore it is called enforced, involuntary or non-volitional attention.
  3. Attention which has been aroused by the sentiments is described as spontaneous non-volitional attention.
  4. This is due to the frequency of sentiment or interest.

In spontaneous attention we attend easily to the stimuli, without any effort.

Voluntary or Volitional Attention –

  1. There are many attentions in which we attend to an object only after making an effort.
  2. This type of attention is sustained, active & forced and can be divided into two types Implicit & Explicit.
  3. Certain attention is imitated by a single act of will which can be sustained for a long time like swearing of an oath.
  4. This type of attention in called implicit volitional attention. Implicit is by a single act of will.
  5. We have the next type of explicitly volitional attention which requires many repeated acts of will & this is known as explicit volitional or voluntary attention.
    1.  E.g.  child playing, coming late to the class when teachers.
    2.  E.g.  A child needs to be reminded again and again about his examinations, so that he can make up his mind and attend to his duties.
  6. In classroom teaching, attention in the beginning is volitional, but by linking the subject matter to instinct or sentiment, attention becomes spontaneous and thus non-volitional.
  7. An infant has to pay volitional attentions in actions like walking or pulling on a dress, but once these habits are formed, attention becomes non-volitional.

Educational Implication

  1. As the span of attention of the student is very short, hence teacher should start from very simple concepts and then proceed to the very difficult / complex concepts.
  2. Matter should be presented in the form of meaningful pattern or a group since mind has a tendency to apprehend complex wholes.
  3. Fluctuations of attention can be minimized by the proper use of stimulus for e.g. Modulation of voice, use of teaching aids etc.
  4. The teaching aids should be used at the proper time and not displayed in advance to avoid division of attention.
  5. It should not be expected that students write in good handwriting as well as maintain speed since the latter will suffer at the behest of the former.
  6. Note of summary should be given only after explanation is over, so as to avoid division of attention between of listening to the teacher and writing. This will not affect the concept formation.

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