To get Interest: Catch and Hold Attention
I’ve been thinking about this question a lot. It’s informing my next round of research proposals.
We know more about how to retain students these days, the “hold” part of Dewey’s challenge mentioned below — consider the UCSD results and the MediaComp results. But how do we “catch” attention? We are particularly bad at “catching” the attention of women and minority students. Our enrollment numbers are rising, but the percentage of women and under-represented minorities is not rising. Betsy DiSalvo has demonstrated a successful “catch” and “hold” design with Glitch. Can we do this reliably? What are the participatory design processes that will help us create programs that “catch”?
So what can parents, teachers and leaders do to promote interest? The great educator John Dewey wrote that interest operates by a process of “catch” and “hold”—first the individual’s interest must be captured, and then it must be maintained. The approach required to catch a person’s interest is different from the one that’s necessary to hold a person’s interest: catching is all about seizing the attention and stimulating the imagination. Parents and educators can do this by exposing students to a wide variety of topics. It is true that different people find different things interesting—one reason to provide learners with a range of subject matter, in the hope that something will resonate.