New research center focused on attention and learning

Wed, Sep 20th 2017 02:30 pm

ST. BONAVENTURE — A new research center at St. Bonaventure University will begin looking this fall at the cognitive impact of students bringing cell phones into the classroom.

Dr. Adam Brown and Dr. Althea Bauernschmidt have been named founding co-directors of the university's Center for Attention, Learning & Memory.

"While these wonderful pieces of technology can connect us across the globe, they divide our attention in the classroom," said Bauernschmidt, an assistant professor of psychology at SBU since 2013. "This divided attention is more harmful than simply being distracted for a moment. It can cause breakdowns in cognitive processing at critical times in the learning and memory process."

The center will facilitate and support faculty development for professors as well as promote research in the areas of attention and learning across departments and schools, said Brown, an associate professor in SBU's School of Education since 2000.

The interdisciplinary center, a joint effort between the School of Education and the School of Arts and Sciences, aligns with the university's new strategic plan, with its focus on a culture of students first as well as faculty and staff excellence.

The purpose of the Center for the Study of Attention, Learning & Memory is to centralize research from across campus in the areas of attention and learning; increase communication among individuals, departments and schools as it pertains to attention and learning; promote interdisciplinary research to better connect disparate fields of study; increase awareness of the importance of attention and learning and related fields; promote student/faculty collaboration on projects related to attention, memory and learning; reinforce St. Bonaventure University's commitment to the study of attention, memory and learning.

Faculty and staff development workshops begin in the fall and will be followed by workshops for local school districts next spring.

"We see this center as an opportunity to work collaboratively with faculty to improve our teaching and our scholarship of teaching," Bauernschmidt said. "Too often, professors are given little institutional support for what is arguably their primary job at a university: teaching. We are thrilled to have the opportunity to work with our colleagues to make a better Bonaventure."

The center will be an invaluable resource for faculty, Brown said.

"After years of investigative research into the strengths and weaknesses of human memory and learning, it will be a pleasure to share what we have found with our fellow faculty," Brown said. "Even the best professors can improve their teaching and classroom skills and we will gladly share the newest brain and behavioral science to improve those skills."  

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