The Science of Orienting Response: What Is It About Media That Engages Learners?

Anytime. Anyplace. Learning.

Dog TVWhat is it about media that captivates people?  How should I be using more media (or less media) in my instruction?  At what times?  For what purposes?  Here’s some amazing research I bumped into this week that answers those very questions.  The science behind learner engagement, regarding media use, goes all the way back to a Pavlovian concept called, “orienting response.”

Grabbing Your Attention
What is it about TV that has such a hold on us? In part, the attraction seems to spring from our biological “orienting response.” First described by Ivan Pavlov in 1927, the orienting response is our instinctive visual or auditory reaction to any sudden or novel stimulus. It is part of our evolutionary heritage, a built-in sensitivity to movement and potential predatory threats. Typical orienting reactions include dilation of the blood vessels to the brain, slowing of the heart, and constriction of blood vessels…

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