ERG SES D 02, Psychology and Education
When teachers find their students daydreaming, the first reaction is to reproach them and call back their attention. The lack of attention (to the teacher talk or to the ongoning classroom activity) is usually considered a waste of time, a lack of responsability toward the task. It is supposed to have a serious impacts and to show hardly any respect for teacher’s lesson. Students are classified on the basis of their being either attentive or inattentive. They are undervalued if they use to get “lost in another world”, dreaming as if the were hearing “the murmur of the water, watching clouds floating in the sky, with their heads in the clouds". The most common terms used in literature to indicate this type of phenomena are: Mind-wandering (Mason et al., 2007; Smallwood & Schooler, 2006, 2007); daydreaming (Singer, 1966); or absentmindedness (Cheyne, Careers & Smilek, 2006; Robertson, Manly, Andrade , Baddeley, & Yiend, 1997).
Mind-wandering (MW) happens at least during 4 seconds about 4000 times a day, filling up of course part of the school time (Beaty et al.,2016). However, the existing research on such a relevant psychological phenomenon is still limited in its understanding of all its (Dario & Tateo, 2018, submitted). Literature is assuming a normative perspective that considers MW a waste of time or something to be prevented or blocked. As there is no shoe that fits perfectly every foot, so obviously there is not just one type of mind-wandering (Smallwood 2017 website), rather styles of "mental journey". MW can present itself as characterized by easy distraint and issues of concentration on environmental events: in this case, the person is unable to provide a good report of her daydreams and has a low awareness of what is happening to her. A second MW style involves poorly expressive emotions and rumination by the "daydreamer" . The third style implies a positive and constructive mental journey, that is associated with an openness to experience and reflects the exploration of ideas, imagination, feelings and sensations. According to Mc Millan et al. (2013) and Kaufman (2013), daydreaming allows self-awareness, creative incubation, improvisation and evaluation, autobiographical planning, thought-driven thinking, future planning, and recovery of a profoundly personal thought (consolidating memory), the reflective consideration of the meaning of events and the simulation of other people's perspectives, the evaluation of one's own and others emotions, moral reasoning, and compassion. According to Immordino-Yang (2016), this is a "constructive internal reflection",(Careers, & Smilek, 2015), which lacked an in-depth investigation.
In their systematic review of MW literature, Dario & Tateo (2018,submitted) identify some limits of the current research and suggest some new theoretical and methodological directions. To understand MW is required to move beyond the normative and teaching-centred perspective, by assuming a first-person perspective of the student. To accomplish this task, we have tried to develop a methodological approach based on a mix of cultural psychology,constructivism, sociocostructivism and ethnometodolology (Anderson, 1989; Angrostino, 2007 Valsiner, 2017). We will present the first developments of a research protocol for the qualitative study of MW in real-life situations that can be easily adapted to different teaching/learning contexts.
We present the initial results of an articulated explorative study on MW aimed at understanding the temporal and contextual conditions in which MW emerges, works and disappears in classroom activities, and how it can promote/inhibit students’ performances and assessment. For this purpose, we have developed an observation protocol, applied in three grades (primary, secondary, high school) during traditional lecturing, testing and cooperative learning situations. The study is in progress, and at the end we will have applied the protocol three times in the same class of each grade. The average is 22 students per class. Six students are selected per class. Three students are interviewed individually and three in a small group interview. The criteria of selection for participants are based on students manifest behaviour during the classroom activities. The protocol is structured in the following steps: • A brief questionnaire for teacher on: type of activity/lesson, content, targets, methodology; • The task assignment and lessons/activity is videorecorded in classroom (about 15 minutes). During the activity, students have a small plastic cup on the desk and they are requested to put a marble into the cup everytime they realize they are wandering • Some minutes after the classroom activity, students are interviewed (individual or in small group condition), using the cup with marbles as a cognitive tool to recall the episodes of mindwandering. When a student identifies such a moment, the interviewer uses the videorecording of the activity as video-feedback to discuss moment by moment the MW experience unfolding. • Data about student assesment by the teacher are collected and analysed. • Qualitative analysis of the interviews and comparison with teacher assessment.
The aim of this explorative study is to understand in ecological context of learning-teaching the conditions of MW and its costructive or disruptive value. To fill the gap in the existingliterature, the study will stress the student-centred perspective and will look at the conditions in which MW is more likely to emerge, its topical content (phenomenology, sensorial effects, ecc..) and of what happened (past experience, routines, …) and what is going to happen. The methodological goal is to develop an innovative, flexible, reliable and easy to adapt method to observe MW in its temporal development, to grasp the process rather than simply categorizing the outcome. In light of the fact that a student mind wandering is usually considered negatively and is associated frequently with poor learning habits, this study offers a definite emancipatory value in that part of its scope is to help render utility to mind wandering in scholastic enviroment.
Anderson, G.L., Critical Etnography in Education: Origins, Current status, and New Directions. Review of Educational Research Fall, 59,1989 Angrostino M. Doing etnographic and observational research, Sage, Thousend Oaks, CA 2007 Beaty, R. E., Benedek, M., Silvia, P. J., & Schacter, D. L. (2016). Opinion: Creative Cognition and Brain Network Dynamics. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 20, 87–95. Cheyne, J. A., Carriere, J. S. A., Smilek, D. (2006). "Absent-mindedness: Lapses in conscious awareness and everyday cognitive failures". Consciousness and Cognition 15 (3): 578–592. doi:10.1016/j.concog.2005.11.009. PMID 16427318 Dario, N. & Tateo, L. (submitted), Mind-wandering on education: a review. Mason, M. F., Norton, M. I., Van Horn, J. D., Wegner, D. M., Grafton, S. T., & Macrae, C. N. (2007). Wandering minds: the default network and stimulus-independent thought. Science, 315(5810), 393–395. McMillan, R., Kaufman, S. B., & Singer, J. L. (2013). Ode to positive constructive daydreaming. Frontiers in psychology, 4, 626 Kaufman, S. B. (2013). Opening up openness to experience: A four‐factor model and relations to creative achievement in the arts and sciences. The Journal of Creative Behavior, 47(4), 233-255. Singer, J. L. (1966). Daydreaming: An introduction to the experimental study of inner experience. Smallwood, J., Fishman, D. J., & Schooler, J. W. (2007). Counting the cost of an absent mind: Mind wandering as an underrecognized influence on educational performance. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 14(2), 230–236. Smallwood, J., & Schooler, J. W. (2006). The restless mind. Psychological Bulletin, 132(6), 946. Robertson, I. H., Manly, T., Andrade, J., Baddeley, B. T., & Yiend, J. (1997). Oops!’: performance correlates of everyday attentional failures in traumatic brain injured and normal subjects. Neuropsychologia, 35(6), 747–758. Valsiner, J. (2017). From Methodology to Methods in Human Psychology. New York: Springer.
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