Putting brain training to the test

On May 19, 2012, in Uncategorized, by Dare

Adrian M. Owen, Adam Hampshire, Jessica A. Grahn, Robert Stenton, Said Dajani, Alistair S. Burns, Robert J. Howard, and Clive G. Ballard

    Abstract:
    ‘Brain training’, or the quest for improved cognitive function through the regular use of computerised tests, is a multimillion pound industry1, yet scientific evidence to support its efficacy is lacking. Modest effects have been reported in some studies of older individuals2,3 and preschool children4, and video gamers out perform non-gamers on some tests of visual attention5. However, the widely held belief that commercially available computerised brain trainers improve general cognitive function in the wider population lacks empirical support. The central question is not whether performance on cognitive tests can be improved by training, but rather, whether those benefits transfer to other untrained tasks or lead to any general improvement in the level of cognitive functioning. Here we report the results of a six-week online study in which 11,430 participants trained several times each week on cognitive tasks designed to improve reasoning, memory, planning, visuospatial skills and attention. Although improvements were observed in every one of the cognitive tasks that were trained, no evidence was found for transfer effects to untrained tasks, even when those tasks were cognitively closely related.

For more, click here.

As parents of children with dyslexia, we understand firsthand the struggle that millions of Americans with the condition face as they try to reach their full potential.

Dyslexia can be remediated with good education, but it is a persistent, lifelong challenge. This is not, and should not be, a Democratic or Republican issue.

Prompted by concerns about our own children and our constituents’ children, we set out to learn as much as we could about dyslexia and were amazed at how much is known and yet, far too often, not incorporated into policy. As a result, we’ve formed the bipartisan Congressional Dyslexia Caucus to educate other Members of Congress and advance policies to break down barriers faced by dyslexics.

For more, click here.

Stamp out rubbing-out

On May 17, 2012, in IDA, by Dare

Published by the Inland Empire Branch of IDA

The Resource

Erase Erasures

By C. Wilson Anderson, Jr., MAT

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in 1984 and re-published in a monograph, 101 WAYS TO PROMOTE ACADEMIC EXCELLENCE, by the Minnesota Foundation to Promote Academic Excellence. Permission to reproduce is given by the author, CWA.

VOL. 23, ISSUE 1

# 16 ERASE ERASURES

A significant number of students have discovered that erasing words, lines and paragraphs is viewed by teachers as honest academic labor. These students use erasing as an avoidance behavior, usually to compensate for their inability – real or imagined – to spell, write legibly or compose intelligent thoughts in sentence form.

Those teachers who have in their possession stacks of papers not only full of erasure holes, but which also appear to have been slept on, can take heart. There is an alternative: the draw-a-line-through-the-mistake approach. It is a simple approach which does not cost the taxpayer’s money; in fact it saves money.

Instruct all students they are not to erase anymore. Instead, they are to draw a neat, single line through any error and continue with their work.

This approach produces several results. The first is that the line allows the teacher to see the mistake. This provides valuable insight as to the struggles a student experiences in writing. Secondly, the student’s time can be spent on getting as much information down with a minimum of interruptions. The third result is helping the student understand it is ok to make mistakes in class; that’s what rough drafts are for. The last result is that when all these errors surface, they can be noted and managed by both the teacher and the student.

Stopping the constant erasing is similar to breaking a bad habit. It is best done school-wide and in “cold turkey” style. The student’s initial resentment is soon lost in more productive work. Papers become neater, the writing becomes more legible and the level of production increases.

About Dysgraphia – Definition

Dysgraphia:

  • Is a processing problem.
  • Causes writing fatigue.
  • Interferes with communication of ideas in writing.
  • Contributes to poor organization on the line and on the page.

Dysgraphia can be seen in:

  • Letter inconsistencies.
  • Mixture of upper/lower case letters or print/cursive letters.
  • Irregular letter sizes and shapes.
  • Unfinished letters.
  • Struggle to use writing as a communications tool.
Dysgraphia is not:

  • Laziness.
  • Not trying.
  • Not caring.
  • Sloppy writing.
  • General sloppiness.
  • Careless writing.
  • Visual-motor delay.

Dysgraphia is defined as a difficulty in automatically remembering and mastering the sequence of muscle motor movements needed in writing letters or numbers. This difficulty is out of harmony with the person’s intelligence, regular teaching instruction, and (in most cases) the use of the pencil in non-learning tasks. It is neurologically based and exists in varying degrees, ranging from mild to moderate. It can be diagnosed, and it can be overcome if appropriate remedial strategies are taught well and conscientiously carried out. An adequate remedial program generally works if applied on a daily basis. In many situations, it is relatively easy to plan appropriate compensations to be used as needed.

Dysgraphia is an inefficiency which seldom exists in isolation without other symptoms of learning problems. While it may occasionally exist alone, it is most commonly related to learning problems involved within the sphere of written language. Difficulty in writing is often a major problem for students, especially as they progress into upper elementary and into secondary school. Rosa Hagan has stated, “Inefficiency in handwriting skills provides a barrier to learning, whereas efficiency in basic handwriting skills provides a tool for learning. Once this tool is established, it can help reinforce many other areas kids are having difficulties with.”

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Separate Reading Exams Await Elementary Teachers
By Stephen Sawchuk / Education Week April 17, 2012

    A handful of states are gradually adopting licensing tests that measure aspiring elementary teachers’ ability to master aspects of what’s arguably their most important
    task: teaching students to read.

    In the most recent example of what appears to be a slow but steady push, Wisconsin became the latest state to adopt a rigorous, stand-alone test of elementary teachers’
    knowledge of the science of reading. Though such efforts to improve the quality of reading instruction generally have been pushed by a fairly small network of constituents, those proponents say that updating licensing exams is one of the few ways states can ensure that reading-instruction skills are taught in teacher training.

For more, click here (PDF).