Spotlight Project

Project Details

Helping our children shine

Each year, around 310,000 children start school for the first time in Australia. Of these, an estimated 13% – that’s 40,300 children – have attention problems that will negatively impact their learning in the classroom.

In primary school children, a lack of focus and concentration, distractibility, poor task completion, and forgetfulness are all common manifestations of inattention and can have a serious impact on learning outcomes, especially on skills that require attention as a building block - such as literacy and numeracy. Yet the precise mechanisms by which attention impacts their acquisition, across development, is not fully known.

The Spotlight Project will help identify how early inattention impacts the emerging cognitive landscape in children as they enter school for the first time, and then longitudinally follow this same cohort through to Grade 3.

The project will address two major aims:

  1. To chart the developmental trajectory of attention as children enter school for the first time.
  2. To determine if cognitive attention (e.g. how we concentrate) is associated with behavioural inattention (e.g. looking out the window in class) and the development of literacy and numeracy skills.

Through Spotlight, we aim to help children with attention problems during their first few years at school, to give them the best chance of a good education, and a happy life


Professor Kim Cornish - Principal Researcher / Monash Psychological Sciences

Associate Professor Katherine Johnson - Principal Researcher

Dr Frances Lewis - Research Fellow

Karen Chiu - Research Assistant

Research Group

Faculty Research Themes

Child Health, Neuroscience

School Research Themes

Cognitive Psychology and Behavioural Neuroscience, Clinical Psychology and Clinical Neuropsychology

Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact the research group leader.

Department / Centre

Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences

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