Monday, May 21, 2018

Curiosity & Attention: Two Words that Solve Problems in the Classroom

By Austin Reppart, Appalachian Chapter Student Ambassador

Many of us have heard the common phrase, “Curiosity killed the cat,” from the famous paradox, Schrödinger’s Cat. But how can curiosity help accounting students? If your goals are to improve grades or retain more information in the classroom, you must give these goals the necessary attention in order the attain them. Today’s fast-paced world, coupled with constant advertising on devices we interact with daily, creates an environment in which attention is one of your most valuable assets. It is a common misconception that the amount of time you spend on a task is equivalent to the amount of attention you give it. Those are not the same statements. Most of us work on a computer and are likely to have some music or a podcast playing in the background, with our phones by our side. How much attention are we really dedicating to the task at hand? Our phones are the best and worst thing to happen to us in the modern age. We are more connected than ever, enabling us to reach thousands of people in a matter of minutes. At the same time, we are unable to keep our attention away from the phone in the face of other, possibly more pressing, tasks. Think about it. Have you ever left your phone at home and NOT immediately turned around to get it? We couldn’t get through the day if we weren’t connected. The point here is if we gave half as much of our attention to our phones, and shared the same eagerness to engage in the classroom material as we did our social media news feeds, then learning accounting material and preparing for the CPA exam would just become second nature. So...

How do we increase our curiosity in the classroom?
  • Ask more questions. I am amazed at how many students never ask questions about the material covered.
  • Ask yourself why does the material exist? Try to figure out the origin of the material and how or why it was developed in accounting.
  • Try to find ways to build on material covered in previous classes. One of the worst things we can do as accounting students is forget what was covered in our principles classes. Connecting the dots from class to class will help your understanding.
  • Find additional resources that cover the same content. Sometimes reading someone else’s perspective will help you understand the material better.

How do we increase our attention in the classroom?
  • Become Curious! These two principles build on each other. The more curious you are the more attention you will have and the more you pay attention the more curious you will become.
  • Sit in the front of the room. It is easier to ask those questions we talked about if you are a few feet away from the professor. If you are shy this may be very beneficial.
  • Put your phone away and on silent. Eliminating this distraction will keep you engaged in the classroom discussions. If you pay attention in class, you will spend less time out of class studying and trying to figure out what is going on in the text.
  • Record lectures…if permitted (aka. expressed written consent). Buy a cheap recorder and download the files to your computer. I listen to them on the treadmill or when driving as well.

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