Research & Resources

Research Briefs


The Anchin Center's research briefs present a succinct, carefully selected synthesis of research on critical topics affecting high quality teaching and learning. These briefs are written in non-technical language and are intended to provide practicing educators with the solid information they need to make effective decisions in curriculum, teaching, and school leadership. 

Keeping Students' Attention in the Classroom

by David Rosengrant Ed.D.

We have all probably heard the old teacher adage that you only get your students’ attention for the first 15 minutes of class and then you lose them. Educators understand that attention, and keeping it, is a critical part to learning. Teachers want our students to focus on something, and regardless if they do it because they want to or because there is an outside force, it cannot be kept forever. What is interesting though, is that this 15 minute loss in attention is usually researched outside of classroom situations where the presentation methods have little variations in them.

That is not to say that we have not studied classroom attention. Some methods in the past to study attention involved looking at student notes, instructors observing their students and how they think their students are paying attention, or using technology like clickers where students self-report their levels of attention. These are just a few examples and the results are really mixed. As one might expect, there is a great deal of variability on keeping attention based on the instructor and the format of the course.

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Research Review on Early Literacy

by Elizabeth Hadley

Early literacy begins to develop the moment children are born. Parents and caregivers lay
the foundation for children’s reading success in infancy, as babies learn to recognize the sounds in their language and identify words within the speech stream. Practices such as reading books with babies, singing songs, drawing, and pointing out letters are important beginning steps in literacy development.

Formal early literacy instruction typically begins in pre-k or kindergarten. Early literacy instruction includes teaching decoding (working with letters and sounds), comprehension (understanding stories and informational texts, background knowledge), and oral language (vocabulary and sentence structure).

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Stress, Wellbeing, and Support for Students and School Staff

by Alexis Sanchez and Nathaniel von der Embse

Stress is a naturally occurring physical and psychological response from the accumulation of short-or long-term demands placed on individuals. Physically, the body will react to stress-induced hormones by increasing heart rate, respiration, and muscle tension.

Psychologically, stress will prompt the body to respond with heightened alertness and attention to what caused the stress. Stress that is appropriately managed through effective coping mechanisms contributes to well-being, but prolonged stress can lead to chronic conditions: high blood pressure, compromised immune systems, and brain changes (e.g., anxiety, depression, and addiction).

In the context of the COVID-19 crisis, there has been a disruption of typical school activities and an increase of social and emotional distress on educators, caregivers, and students alike. The level of stress has been heightened during the COVID-19 crisis by increased anxiety and uncertainty from months of isolation, abrupt changes of daily routines, and worry about health.

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Supporting the Social-Emotional Wellbeing of Students During a Time of Stress

by Sarahy Durango and Nathaniel von der Embse

There is a strong connection between students’ social-emotional health and academic success. Students with strong social-emotional skills have been shown to possess increased capacity to learn, improved life outcomes, and decreased risk for mental health problems.

Currently, almost 25% of children are estimated to experience a mental or behavioral health problem in a given year. If left untreated, these issues are often exacerbated and can increase in severity, leading to worsened outcomes for children.

Schools are increasingly becoming the central location for children to access mental health services due to barriers that interfere with families receiving support from community-based mental health providers. Thus, it is essential that schools have the capacity to meet the social-emotional and behavioral health needs of students. 

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