Class length can become an important factor for students when
“Attention spans for people certainly vary. Some people can sit
for a long period of time and function fine and others can have
trouble sitting for 15 minutes,” said Charles Davidshofer, director
of the University Counseling Center.
Davidshofer said many factors come into play when looking at
attention spans in class. Adequate sleep, good posture and getting
something to eat and drink can help students stay tuned in for a
long period of time.
Most classes at CSU are 50 minutes long on Monday, Wednesday and
Friday and an hour and 15 minutes on Tuesday and Thursday.
For Connie Kercher, a sophomore speech communications major,
Monday, Wednesday and Friday classes are the way to go.
“We are college students and we have pretty short attention
spans, so shorter classes keep us interested,” Kercher said.
Sophomore Lyndsey Struthers agreed that an hour and 15 minutes
can be a little long. Struthers said that when classes are longer
than 50 minutes, one can look around the classroom and see people
staring off and not paying attention.
“It is a waste of the students’ time as well as the
professors’,” Struthers said.
Professor Robert Lawrence in the political science department
said most Americans are wired for 50 minutes. Because of this,
during his hour and 15 minute classes he stops halfway through and
has his students stand up, turn around and take a deep breath. This
gives students a short break so they can refocus.
Some students prefer to have longer class periods. This is the
case for Michael Silvestrini, a junior majoring in international
studies, who would rather have classes on Tuesday and Thursday.
“It depends on the professor. Some professors can hold my
attention and others are unprepared for the entire duration.”
Silvestrini said. “Large lectures are tougher to sustain the hour
and 15 minutes compared to labs or smaller classes that have more
interaction in them.”
Mike Naifeh said he prefers Tuesday and Thursday classes because
although they are a little long, they are not too long so that they
drag. Naifeh is also taking a philosophy class that is held on
Tuesday nights for three hours.
“It’s nice only having that class once a week, but it has to be
a class you are interested in,” said Naifeh, a freshman open option
Benjamin Clegg, an assistant professor from the psychology
department, agreed that attention spans are different for all
people. One way to consider the issue is through comparison to
“How long is “too long” to play a computer game? When is a movie
“too long”? If something engages your attention in an immersive
fashion then you will continue to do it for an extended period of
time. The problem is that most classes are not like that,” Clegg