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varies by the nature of the stimulus, but the typical duration is from a fraction of a second
to a few seconds. with many sensations never reaching a conscious level of awareness. In
the brief time that these sensations are retained, only some are identified and marked for
further processing. The cognitive processes that accomplish this initial screening of
information are referred to as selective perception processes (Gagne, Yenkovich and
Yenkovich, 1993). Selective perception includes the processes of perception and
attention. Attention is the cognitive process of selecting information from the sensory
register for further processing. Another way to say this is that we focus our attention on
particular sensations but not on others. At times this selection or focusing process is
under voluntary control, and at other times it is not.
Attention that is under voluntary control is called selective attention (Howes,
1990). Learners intentionally select some information to attend to because that
information is important for achieving their goals. Teachers can assist learners in this
process by helping them identify the information that is important. For example, teachers
might emphasize certain points in a presentation by writing them on the board or
It is also the case that sometimes external events will cause an automatic shift in
attention. Changes in our surroundings, such as a loud noise, or movement within our
peripheral field of vision will often draw, at least momentarily, our attention. This Manuscript 9/28/03 21 automatic selection is referred to as an orienting response, and the stimulus that
automatically draws our attention is called an orienting stimulus (Howes, 1990). For
example, suppose that a general science class is engaged in a lab activity. One student
accidentally drops a piece of glassware that makes a loud noise as it shatters. The
attention of other students is diverted from the lab activity as they all search for the
source of the noise. In this case the loud noise was an orienting stimulus and the students
looking up was an orienting response.
Highly chaotic environments are likely to affect students’ attentional processes by
providing a variety of orienting stimuli or distractions. In a later chapters we will discuss
the importance of maintaining a predictable classroom environment. Here is just one
more theoretical justification for providing that type of environment.
Perception is the process of identifying meaningful patterns of information in the
sensations present in the sensory register. Perception is heavily influenced by the
interaction of stimulus context with the prior knowledge of the person perceiving the
stimulus. Stimulus context refers to the stimuli which surround or are associated with the
stimulus being perceived. Compare how the symbol “13” looks when it appears in the
sequence, “12, 13, 1 4.” Compared to its appearance in the sequence “A, 13, C.” Typically the
identification of this symbol is he...
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This document was uploaded on 03/29/2014 for the course EPS 324 at N. Arizona.
- Spring '08