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New webinar discusses split attention in the classroom

Image: Dr. Susan Mather, a professor in the Linguistics Department at Gallaudet University, will present the Clerc Center webinar "Strategies to Prevent Visual Split-Attention with Students Who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing," on December 4.

Dr. Susan Mather, a professor in the Linguistics Department at Gallaudet University, will present the Clerc Center webinar "Strategies to Prevent Visual Split-Attention with Students Who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing," on December 4.

When a teacher presents information along with visual supports such as using an interpreter, writing on a blackboard, or giving a PowerPoint presentation, the learners must divide their visual attention.

Understanding this classroom situation and its impact is the subject of "Strategies to Prevent Visual Split-Attention with Students Who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing," a free webinar that will be captioned and accessible in both American Sign Language and English. To register,  go here:

Wednesday, December 4, 2013
3 p.m. EST 

"Spilt attention is an issue in the classroom because it overloads a student's working memory," said presenter Dr. Susan Mather, a professor in the Linguistics Department at Gallaudet University. "In the webinar, I will present how by incorporating some visually based learning strategies can go a long way towards eliminating traditionally low levels of academic achievements for deaf and hard of hearing students."

As a result of visual split-attention, the students will experience either high levels of cognitive load or cognitive overload, adversely affecting their classroom performance. However, recent research shows that there are strategies that teachers can use to reduce the effect of split-attention. This webinar will cover the following topics:

  • Differences between auditory-oriented classrooms and visually oriented classrooms
  • Impact of visual split-attention on cognitive overload and working memory
  • Shifting attention between visual fields in the classroom
  • Strategies to reduce the effect of split-attention in various types of classroom situations

After December 4, this webinar will be available on the Clerc Center website for playback at anytime.

About the presenter:

Dr. Mather earned her doctorate in sociolinguistics with minors in applied linguistics and anthropology from Georgetown University. Among her published research includes an investigation of classroom discourse strategies, including proper use of eye gaze. Mather continues to research visual split-attention effects due to non-integrated speaking/signing along with use of classroom props with students who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Upcoming Clerc Center webinars:

Clerc Center webinars are a convenient way to meet professional development requirements and to supply families with needed resources. Without incurring travel expenses or workshop fees, individual educators, professionals, and parents can interact with professionals in the field of deaf education from the comfort and convenience of their own offices, school locations, or home computers. Groups of colleagues, teachers, and/or families also have the convenience of viewing the webinars together from one central location.

Upcoming webinar topics: 

  • Autism Series Part 3 - Parents Perspectives with Dr. Christen A. Szymanski
  • What the Eyes Reveal about the Brain: Insights from VL2 and Advances in Human Language Acquisition with Dr. Laura-Ann Petitto

For latest information and to view archived webinars, visit our webinar page.