First Advisor

Hulac, David

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Date Created



College of Education and Behavioral Sciences, School Psychology, School Psychology Student Work


Fidget “tools”, or objects to facilitate fidgeting, are gaining in popularity and controversy within the educational setting. Advertisers market fidget objects as evidence-based methods to improve attention, alleviate anxiety, and otherwise improve academic performance for their users. Thus, many individuals are investing in these objects to aid them in their academic studies, jobs, and other attention/focus orientated pursuits. These claims of evidence basis are made in the absence of sufficient scientific research and with conflicting theoretical basis regarding their mechanism of effect. The present study looked at the effect of facilitated fidgeting through different devices (stress ball and fidget spinner) compared to a no fidget device control condition on college student performance on a series of attention and cognitive tasks that occur during different learning processes. Data were analyzed using a 3x6 MANOVA. There were no significant differences on outcome measures, including digit span tasks, Stroop tasks, listening comprehension tasks, and reading maze task, between no fidget tool (n=22), fidget spinner (n=22), or stress ball conditions (n=22). The study also evaluated how self-reported attention difficulties may alter this relationship between facilitated fidgeting and academic performance. Self-reported attention difficulties did not significantly affect the relationship between facilitated fidgeting and academic performance, nor were there significant differences across task performance between ADHD indicated participants iv and non-ADHD indicated participants. This study, along with developing research and literature in the field suggests that fidgets have little to no effect on improving attention and learning outcomes with college students or across development and may, in some cases, lead to negative learning and behavioral outcomes. Recommendations for schools on fidget use are provided based on the findings of this study and extant literature.


164 pages

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