Lengthening kindergarteners’ attention span through small group individualised instruction

  • Manal Marzouq H Alharbi

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


In Saudi Arabia, the context for this research, there is a concern about children’s attention levels. For example, there is a view that technology distractions such as 24-hour children’s channels and internet, and video games have an undue influence. As a result, capturing and maintaining young learners’ attention within school classroom activities has become an issue that has been raised by parents and teachers whom I have met during my employment as a Lecturer in early childhood education. Whilst most early years teachers in Saudi Arabia tend to use whole group instruction, this research sets out to explore the effects of small group individualised instruction on children’s attention span in a classroom in Saudi, especially those performing at the lower level of what is considered a “normal” attention span. Sociocultural theory is used as a framework for exploring kindergarteners’ learning experiences, and informing potential interventions.
This action research informed by elements of ethnographic case study followed one kindergarten class of 30 children aged 5-6 and three teachers for six months. I observed the class every day. Initially, the whole class was observed, then after three weeks a sample of four participants, three boys and one girl, were identified as children who met the criteria of the research in terms of their limited attention span. As well as observing and filming the children I made assessments of their attention span, interviewed their parents and teachers, and analysed the children’s portfolio of work. From here I worked with the class teachers to set individual learning plans and activities (interventions) to find out how individualised instruction might impact on children’s attention and learning.
The findings showed that using small group individualised instruction lengthened kindergarten’s attention span and increased the children’s enjoyment when working on educational activities. Regarding academic achievements, comparison between the children’s achievements using traditional instruction and small group individualised instruction found that the intervention increased children’s academic achievements in the short term. The findings have implications for developing teaching instruction/pedagogies in early childhood education which are sensitive to context in Saudi Arabia.
Date of Award17 Nov 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorElisabeth Barratt Hacking (Supervisor) & Susan Martin (Supervisor)

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