Do Young Children Habituate to their Classroom Environment?

Abstract

Prior research has shown that visual features of the classroom environment (e.g., charts, posters) can be potential sources of distraction hindering children’s ability to attend to the content of a lesson. However, it is possible that over time children may habituate to their classroom environment. To address this possibility we investigated whether more prolonged exposure in a high visual distraction learning environment would result in habituation. We presented 23 kindergartners with 10 science lessons over 2-weeks. A habituation effect was observed as evidenced by a significant decrease in the proportion of time children attended to the environment between week 1 and week 2 (p=0.001). However, the proportion of time children attended to the environment at week 2 remained significantly above baseline levels (p<0.0001). Thus over time children began to habituate to the classroom environment; however, the environment remained a significant source of distraction for young children.


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