Mind Wandering Essay

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A Critical Review: finding a balance for mind wandering in higher education Mind wandering is a universal everyday experience that affects every university student. A voluntary or involuntary shift in attention draws the student from their current task to focus on internal trains of thought. In doing so, the negative effects on the task outcomes may affect study outcomes and the positive effects of focusing inward may affect personal development outcomes. The aim of this review is to understand the primary costs and benefits of mind wandering in relation to the individual student. This essay will analyse the methodology used in studies that find costs to educational outcomes and adaptive benefits of mind wandering. The role…show more content…
Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) provides functional measures of the resting brain, helping to understand the nature of the brains networks. The fMRI illustrated the ‘default mode network’, where several structures of the brain showed more activity at rest than during externally directed cognitive tasks (McMillan et al., 2013). Although previously the difficulty to describe the inner experience of mind wandering in words may have contributed to the lack of research (Mooneyham and Schooler, 2013), this emerging evidence has generated a new wave of interest (McMillan et al., 2013). Mind wandering may be especially prevalent in the educational setting (Moulton et al 2013) and notwithstanding, cognitive and educational psychologists have become interested in applying principles of cognitive psychology to education. Subsequently, the findings from this new wave of research may directly influence the modelling of delivery methods in higher education, particularly online programs initially (Szpunar et al.,2013), and improve learning outcomes…show more content…
They found that mind wandering caused neural activity in both default (resting) and executive (goal directed) regions at the same time (Christoff et al). This suggests that mind wandering is resource demanding, and may be a sign of a high capacity working memory (Smallwood & Schooler), perhaps facilitating the high order goal planning during daydreaming predicted by Singer decades ago (Mooneyham & Schooler). As reported by Christoff et al. (2009), neural activity was strongest when subjects were not aware of their mind wandering, suggesting that mind wandering is more prolific when it lacks meta awareness. Additionally, the test measure on the SART indicated that with meta awareness there were less errors. This study explicitly validated evidence of the previously disputed neural recruitment in mind wandering by using the triangulation method of combining neuro imaging with self-reports and the behavioural measures of brain function (Christoff et al., 2009). Equally importantly, these findings specifically relate to university education, and depending on alignment of personal goals, could augment educational goals, and the attainment of better educational outcomes. Furthermore, the more mindful or meta aware a student, the less mind wandering, providing
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