Shorter Class Times: Not the Only Way to Keep Students’ Attention

Shorter Class Times: Not the Only Way to Keep Students’ Attention

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by Alex McDonald

With 70-minute blocks a day, students find it difficult to stay on task for all of their classes. Out of 104 students who took the survey on class length and its impact, 95 don’t pay attention all of class. That’s 91%. This causes kids to miss important information, and it could explain why their homework isn’t done or why they failed a test or a quiz. However this issue does have two possible solutions: shortening class times and rethinking the way teachers teach.

As you can imagine, shortening class times wouldn’t drastically change the schedule, maybe just trim 10 minutes off each block to allow for another block a day or a study hall period.

In her editorial on the addition of study halls, Serena Richards published a schedule that would accommodate all of the state’s regulations and include shorter blocks, and maybe even a study period.


Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5 Day 6 Day 7
Period 1


Block A Block F Block D Block B Block G Block E Block C
Period 2 8:40-9:46 Block B Block G Block E Block C Block A Block F Block D
Study Hall 9:50-10:10 Block C study hall Block A study hall Block F study hall Block D study hall Block B study hall Block G study hall Block E study hall
Period 3 10:14 – 11:20 Block C Block A Block F Block D Block B Block G Block E
Period 4 11:24- 12:56


Block D Block B Block G Block E Block C Block A Block F
Period 5 1:00- 2:03 Block E Block C Block A Block F Block D Block B Block G
Drop Blocks F,G drop D,E drop B,C drop G,A drop E,F drop C,D drop A,B drop


Lunch 1 Lunch 2 Lunch 3
11:25-11:51  (23) 11:25-11:55 (30) 11:20-12:25 (66)
11:5-12:56 (66) 11:59-12:22 (23) 12:29-12:56 (23)
12:26-12:56 (30)

Schedule created by Lucy deMartin, Breanna Lizotte and Siobhan Richards


This schedule still follows all of the educational laws and allows for an extra block in the day. Also this schedule only trims off five minutes from each block. If we were to cut off a little more, even ten minutes, we would have enough time in the day to have six full blocks of education. Blocks would be 60 minutes.

But many would argue against shorter class times because they believe that students would have trouble paying attention no matter the amount of time.  

For example a recent article published in 2014 talks about a study done by psychologists.

According to this study, teenagers have trouble maintaining focus on one thing for an extended period of time. They are able to pay attention to something for about 10-20 minutes, but then they have to refocus. For every time they refocus, their span of attention decreases by 2-5 minutes.

This attention lapse would happen no matter the material or length. Also, the article describing this study was published in 2014. Now, three years later, technology has become an even bigger part of our lives. It mentions in the article that technology can potentially shorten your attention span, so it is possible that the average attention span of a student has gotten shorter since 2014.

According to this study, shorter class times would only help students pay attention if we limited blocks to 20 minutes or less.

However, there is another way to solve this issue. A different article written by a doctor in 2014 also talks about the problem of students not being able to pay attention. This article says that if teachers were to present material in a different way it would help. The article says that if teachers make classes more engaging instead of simply lecturing, students would be able to pick up information and retain it.

Students not being able to pay attention is a problem, but it is a problem we can fix. This isn’t only up to students however; it is teachers who can really make a difference and help students pay attention throughout class.


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