STEADY, WHAT?: Most students tend to think about jobs that they haven't finished or obligations they have to fulfil much more than what they are doing. Photo: A. Roy Chowdhury
A CENTURY ago, pioneer psychologist, William James, described attention as "taking possession of a fact by the mind in clear and vivid form." In 1920s, the word `attention' disappeared from academic psychology for three decades giving place to `behaviourism.'
However, again from '50s psychologists began to regard mind as an information processing system and attention thus became a central point. At this juncture, US psychologist, Colin Cherry, introduced another term, `cocktail party attention,' which explains how we are able to follow just one conversation when many people are talking at once.
As exams are nearing, let us discuss certain tips for better attention.
* The time factor: Set aside a time to begin studying. Don't get involved in long discussions and be careful what you do before you start studies. Most students tend to think about jobs that they haven't finished or obligations they have to fulfil much more than what they are doing.
If you are doing maths, set a time goal for solution of each problem. In other words, divide your assignments into small units to increase your ability to study.
* Place and paraphernalia: Do you have a place for study you can call your own? Set aside a fixed place for study and nothing but study. Your attention is automatic when you enter classroom, because in the past, the room has been associated with attentive listening.
If you can arrange the same kind of situation for the place where you study, you will find it easier to sit down and immediately start studying. Another trick that helps is to keep pencil and a reminder pad. While you're studying you happen to think about a job that needs to be done.
Your pad relieves you from the said worry. Before you start to study, put on a cap and associate your studies with your cap. Keep it strictly only when you are studying. Remove the cap even when you go for a glass of water.
* Book anxiety: If you have to do something unpleasant, probably you postpone it as long as possible and would welcome reasons.
Close your eyes and stand silently before your study table for two minutes before you start. Try to associate the book with relaxation, not with tension and anxiety.
Don't sit at your desk staring into a book and mumbling about your poor will power. The physical act of standing up helps you to be back on the job. You'll find that telling yourself, "I should stand up now," will be enough to get you back on the track.
* The filter theory: Attention is basically a limited capacity information channel. Psychologist, Broadbent, argues that a `filter' operates to select which material should receive full processing within attention.
Once in consciousness, this material can interact with information retrieved from memory.
Hence, it is up to student to select whether to think about Tendulkar's fastest century and Newton's law of motion.
By Yandamoori Veerendranath
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