Classroom Environment, Allocation of Attention, and Learning Outcomes in K-4 Students

Anna Fisher, Ryan Baker, Howard Seltman, Sharon Carver and Peter Scupelli

Distractibility decreases markedly with student age. First, classrooms for younger learners usually contain more potential sources of visual distraction (e.g., art work, posters, alphabet charts, etc.) than older student’s learning environments. Do educational materials that are not directly relevant to the ongoing instruction present a distraction for young learners? And if so, does off-task behavior related to the classroom visual environment affect learning outcomes? Second, the classroom environment is much more malleable than other factors related to learning such as the students’ socio-economic status, aptitude, perseverance, and so forth.This research is focused on the following research question: How might the visual environment in K-4th grade classrooms contribute to off-task behavior in K-4 students? The LEL lab is focusing on documenting the contents of the classroom visual environment and developing design guidelines to decrease visual clutter in the classroom environment.


Almeda, M. V., Scupelli, P., Baker, R., Weber, M. , Fisher, A. V. (2014). Clustering of design decisions in classroom visual displays. LAK 2014, pp. 44-48.
Fisher, A.V., Godwin, K.E., & Seltman, H. (in press) Visual environment, attention allocation, and learning: When too much of a good thing may be bad. Psychological Science.
Godwin, K.E., Almeda, M. V., Petroccia, M., Baker, R.S., & Fisher, A.V. (2013). Classroom activities and off-task behavior in elementary school children. In M. Knauff, M. Pauen, N. Sebanz, and I. Wachsmuth (Eds.), Proceedings of the 35th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society, 2428-2433.

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