ERG SES G 14, Teacher Education
Mind-wandering is viewed as a phenomenon at the margin of the pedagogical horizon, the same way in which mistakes were seen in past decades. In fact, for a long time teachers took a dim view of mistakes but now they tend to use them as a tool to improve teaching-learning actions. Keep in mind that the revaluation of error represents, according to Bachelard (1995), a dynamic and not static reconsideration of what knowledge is. Likewise, we claim that there is an absence of interest in mind-wandering in the pedagogical field and in cultural psychology: these two "sisters science" could analyze it as an in-between common process. Dario & Tateo (2019) proposed a qualitative protocol to better understand how mind wandering works in the educational context of the classroom. They confirmed that Mw is a polyphonic phenomenon. In fact, on the one hand, we can find experimental evidence indicating that when Mw occurs performance of primary task tends to suffer. It is an attention deficit or a compensation for boredom with a decline in educational setting (McVay, J. C., & Kane, M. J., 2010; Risko, Anderson, Sarwal, Engelhardt & Kingstone, 2012; Szpunar, Moulton & Schacter, 2013; Wammes, J. D., Boucher, P. O., Seli, P., Cheyne, J. A., & Smilek, D., 2016; Wammes, J. D., Seli, P., Cheyne, J. A., Boucher, P. O., & Smilek, D., 2016)
"Mind wandering can be viewed as a state of decoupled attention because instead of monitoring online sensory information, attention shifts inward and focuses on one's thought and feeling" (Smallwood and Schooler, 2006; p.951).
On the other hand, Mw is a mental experience in which the person has the opportunity of returning to the task with a refreshed capacity for attentive processing; consciousness looks towards inner thoughts, feelings, and memories while keeping a connection with the environmental conditions. The individual is able to manage the risk by moving from present to past experiences and anticipating the future (Beaty, R. E., Benedek, M., Silvia, P. J., & Schacter, D. L., 2016; Mc Millan, Kaufman & Singer, 2013; Baird, B., Smallwood, J., Mrazek, M. D., Kam, J. W., Franklin, M. S., & Schooler, J. W., 2012; Singer, 1966, 1975). Our first study on mind wandering confirms that it is a background thought (a second field as in Stemberg, 2019) to which everybody returns frequently but it is useful to reach deep and individual learning.
In this manner, we would like to underline the heterogeneity of Mw. In this paper, we reconsidered the protocol in particular in its self-report aspects. We are interested in studying mind-wandering in-depth by analyzing students and teachers' MW during their lessons (in lecturing, test, and cooperative learning) and the correspondence between learning styles and mind-wandering.
The learning-teaching relationship is described as a conversation, communication. Knewstubb (2014) considers "teaching and learning as simultaneously individual experiences, affected by personal epistemological, contextual and situational assumptions, and shared communicative space, in which communicators and their addressees work to reach mutual understandings" (p. 525). In this sense, we know that learning and teaching processes are interconnected. So, if different kinds of mind wandering occur during the learning activities, what happens to teachers, tutors, mentors? Is there a relationship between students and teachers' Mw narrations in different learning situations? If so, which ones? Mw is also the main expression of our deep and individual learning and we want to explore connections with students’ learning styles, according to Cornoldi et al. (2015) and Mariani (2000)’s identification of them (e.g. Are images prevalent in Mw narration in the visual learners? Are inner monologue or words in verbal learner?).
We conduct an explorative study through research protocol, in order to explore MW in-depth by comparing the mind-wandering contents and narrations and the characteristics of learning styles. We want to understand in which moment mind-wandering happens, its contents and multimodality (image, concepts, movements, etc.) in students and teachers, discussing with them of their mind-wandering while they are watching anew the learning situations. What are the correlations in both narratives? The same is developed in three levels of school (primary, secondary, high school) in frontal lesson, test, and cooperative situations. The average class contains 22 students, 6 of them (three single and one groups) are students, selected in three learning situations (frontal lesson, test, cooperative situation). Also, teachers are involved in this research. The phases of the protocol are: • a brief interview with teachers to identify and describe their planned teaching/learning activities. • administering a brief questionnaire on learning-styles, using the validated Cornoldi at al. (2015)'s questionnaire on learning styles for students from 9 to 15 years old and Mariani (2000) for older students and teachers; • the task assignment and lesson/activity video recorded in the classroom (about 15 minutes). During the activity, students marked their MW experience inserting a cotton ball inside a plastic cup when they realize they are wandering. • a few minutes after the classroom activity, students are interviewed (individual or small group condition), using the cotton balls as cognitive tools to recall the episodes of mind-wandering. When students identify such a moment, the interviewer uses the video-recorded activity as a video-feedback to discuss moment by moment the MW experiences unfolding. • A similar interview is conducted with teachers in front of the video-recorded lesson on their mind wandering. • Qualitative analysis of both teachers' interviews, students' ones and comparison with questionnaire results on learning styles and Mw contents.
We aimed at observing how learning styles of students are connected to mind-wandering and to understand in the ecological context of learning-teaching the conditions of MW and its constructive or disruptive value in students and teachers. To fill the gap in the existing literature (produced in a laboratory), the study focuses on the student-centered perspective and looks at the conditions in which MW emerges, happens (past experience, routines, …) in students and teachers. The methodological goal is to develop and extend an innovative, flexible, reliable and easily applicable method to observe MW in its temporal development, to grasp the processes rather than simply categorizing the outcomes while attempting to develop new educational praxis.
Bachelard, G. (1995). La formazione dello spirito scientifico, Milano: Raffaello Cortina. Baird, B., Smallwood, J., Mrazek, M. D., Kam, J. W., Franklin, M. S., & Schooler, J. W. (2012). Inspired by distraction: mind wandering facilitates creative incubation. Psychological science, 23(10), 1117-1122. 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. Cornoldi, C., De Beni, R. & Gruppo Mt, (2015). Imparare a studiare. Strategie, stili cognitivi, metacognizione e atteggimenti nello studio. Trendo: Erickson. Dario, N. & Tateo, L. (2019, submitted), Mind-wandering: useful for learning or waste of time?. Singer, J. L. (1966). Daydreaming. New York: Random House. Mariani, L. (2000). Portfolio. Materiali per documentare e valutare cosa s’impara e come si impara. Bologna: Zanichelli. McVay, J. C., & Kane, M. J. (2010). Does mind wandering reflect executive function or executive failure? Comment on Smallwood and Schooler (2006) and Watkins (2008). Mooneyham, B. W., & Schooler, J. W. (2013). The costs and benefits of mind-wandering: a review. Canadian Journal of Experimental Psychology/Revue canadienne de psychologie expérimentale, 67(1), 11. Risko, E. F., Anderson, N., Sarwal, A., Engelhardt, M., & Kingstone, A. (2012). Everyday attention: Variation in mind wandering and memory in a lecture. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 26(2), 234-242. Seli, P., Carriere, J. S., Thomson, D. R., Cheyne, J. A., Martens, K. A. E., & Smilek, D. (2014). Restless mind, restless body. Journal of experimental psychology: learning, memory, and cognition, 40(3), 660. Seli, P., Risko, E. F., Smilek, D., & Schacter, D. L. (2016). Mind-Wandering With and Without Intention. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 20 (8), pp. 605-617. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tics.2016.05.010 605 Szpunar, K. K., Moulton, S. T., & Schacter, D. L. (2013). Mind wandering and education: from the classroom to online learning. Frontiers in psychology, 4, 495. Knewstubb, B. (2016). The learning–teaching nexus: Modelling the learning–teaching relationship in higher education. Studies in Higher Education, 41(3), 525-540. Smallwood, J., & Schooler, J. W. (2006). The restless mind. Psychological Bulletin, 132(6), 946. Wammes, J. D., Boucher, P. O., Seli, P., Cheyne, J. A., & Smilek, D. (2016). Mind wandering during lectures I: Changes in rates across an entire semester. Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Psychology, 2(1), 13. Wammes, J. D., Seli, P., Cheyne, J. A., Boucher, P. O., & Smilek, D. (2016). Mind wandering during lectures II: Relation to academic performance. Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Psychology, 2(1), 33.
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