Neuroplasticity and the Evolving Learner PART 3

Part 3Working with students with special needs/learning difficulties “It’s not that they are being lazy, it is because they actually cannot hold that much information”. Breaking down instructions will help kids manage.

Jessica suggests trying the Cognitive Profile Questionnaire, available on the Arrowsmith website, which provides the individual with a summary of the likely learning strengths and weaknesses they may have. “This understanding and insight into how we learn and engage with the world can really allow us to see how our children are learning and behaving through a cognitive lens.”

One of the differences between cognitive programs like Arrowsmith and mainstream education is that cognitive programs are based on the application of neuroscience research and work to strengthen the cognitive functions of the brain. According to Jessica, “we can apply the principles of neuroplasticity by creating learning tasks that meet 3 important conditions for neuroplastic change”.

So how can parents and educators utilize these conditions to enhance the learning of students? Here, Jessica shares these 3 important conditions with Beyond the Classroom:

  1. Active Engagement – The student must be fully engaged in the exercise/task. The engagement must be sustained for a significant period of time, ideally 30-45 minutes in length.
  2. Effortful Processing – The task must be novel and effortful. As a student works on an exercise/task and becomes a master at a certain task it is important to incrementally increase in complexity in order to maintain a level of demand on the cognitive area but will never be so difficult that the student cannot complete the task.
  1. Novelty Task Complexity – ensure the task meets the child’s abilities

Part 3a

Keeping these principles of neuroplasticity in mind when creating learning tasks can help enhance a student’s ability to learn”

Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D., is one of the world’s leading researchers in the field of motivation and is the Lewis and Virginia Eaton Professor of Psychology at Stanford University. Her research has focused on why people succeed and how to foster success. She has held professorships at Columbia and Harvard Universities, has lectured all over the world, and has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Her scholarly book Self-Theories: Their Role in Motivation, Personality, and Development was named Book of the Year by the World Education Federation. Her work has been featured in such publications as The New Yorker, Time, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Boston Globe, and she has appeared on Today and 20/20.

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