Welcome Back, CEC, & IMBES

Welcome Back, CEC, & IMBES

Educational Research High School Middle School The Study Academy Report

Greetings! Welcome back! I hope your summer was everything you’d ever hoped it would be and more.

First off, please let me introduce myself: My name is Ariana. I enjoy long walks on the beach, sunsets, and filing OSRs. In other words, I am the new School Administrator, and I am pleased to handle all of your administrative needs. I have also assumed the role of Blog Master, so here we go:

Once again, welcome back! We’re glad to see so many new and returning faces, and we’re excited about everything that this year has in store. Already, we’ve had our high school trip to the Canadian Ecology Centre, Parent Welcome Meeting, taken student card photos, had our first assembly and fire drill of the year (which everyone aced), and will soon begin our extracurricular clubs and activities. We’re powering through and loving every second of it. On to thing two!

Various balls on the groundDuring the first week back, we had our start-of-year high school trip to the Canadian Ecology Centre (CEC). For those of you who don’t know, the CEC is a non-profit environmental science education and research facility. They share the landscape with Samuel de Champlain Park, as well as the goal of “conserving and protecting our natural environment.” Their aim is to “[facilitate] informed choices [for all of their visitors] – presenting a better understanding of the conservation and development issues related to the environment and [associated] sectors. The CEC is also home to the Canadian Institute of Forestry”, and from September 6th to 9th, they housed our high school students. During that week, Grades 9 – 12 got to engage in some awesome activities, including: Team building and other group exercises, swimming, canoeing, drumming, astronomy, night vision and campfire construction, wilderness survival, stream and aquatic study, Creatures of the Night and Living Discovery Lab, orienteering and introduction to GPS, and intro to GIS. It was a packed week, but the group had a great time and learned some important information about our environment, and themselves, in the process. Trips like this are a great way to supplement classroom learning, facilitate teamwork, and present an opportunity for students to participate in outdoor education, but they also provide a practical understanding of nature and the environment, situating it in a context that then becomes more relatable and, thus, more actionable. We are dedicated, through these experiences, to the growth of our students both in the classroom and beyond; at present and into the indefinite future.

Lastly, we are very pleased to announce that our very own Jason Krell, Patrick Dolecki, and Anderson Todd have been accepted to present their research at the International Mind, Brain, & Education Society’s (IMBES) 2016 conference here in Toronto! IMBES’ mission is to “facilitate cross-cultural collaboration in biology, education, and the cognitive and developmental sciences.” They aim to “improve the state of knowledge in, and dialogue between, education, biology, and the developmental and cognitive sciences; create and develop resources for scientists, practitioners, public policy makers, and the public; and create and identify useful information, research directions, and promising educational practices. [They] invite researchers and practitioners at all levels of education to explore the questions and proposed solutions that emerge at the intersection of mind, brain, and education.” This year’s conference featured keynotes from Dr. Clancy Blair, on The Development of Self-Regulation in Early Childhood; Dr. Tania Lombrozo, on The Good, The Bad, and the Beautiful (evidence for broad/simple explanation preference in children and adults); Dr. Marla Sokolowski, on Gene-Environment Interplay in Individual Differences in Behaviour; Dr. Janet Werker, on Perceptual Foundations of Language Acquisition; and Dr. Pasi Sahlberg, on About the Facts and the Myths about Education in Finland: Mind, brain, and smart education policies.

Neurofeedback schematic diagramKrell, Dolecki, & Todd (2016)’s poster, Executive Functions Through Attention, covered their research on the effects of neurofeedback training (NT) on attention and executive functioning (e.g., self-regulation, cognitive flexibility, reasoning, problem-solving, planning) in Gr. 5 – 8 students. NT teaches individuals to self-regulate by providing direct feedback on temporal and spatial patterns in brain activity. Using EEG measurement, it rewards individuals for attending effectively, encouraging them to attend further. In their presentation, they noted the changing landscape of education, with increasingly personalized learning, expanded accessibility, and new desired learning outcomes centred on adaptive competencies. Despite this, as well as the promising evidence of its effectiveness for individuals with and without ADHD, educational research on NT is presently scarce. This motivated them to examine the relationship between the use of this specific technology and student attention/executive functioning. After acquiring the appropriate assent and consent, data was gathered from semi-weekly, 30-minute training sessions, and performance was assessed by parents and teachers. Results support that both teachers and parents observed decreases in the relative occurrence of inattentive behaviours over the course of the NT sessions. This supports the hypothesis that NT can be effectively used in a classroom setting to supplement student learning and existing growth, and improve attention, planning, and organizational skills. In short, we’ve not seen the end of NT at The Study Academy, and we’re excited to see what else we can do with it moving forward.

That’s all for now! Stay tuned for more exciting news and events.

Exploring Principles of Learning and Teaching

Exploring Principles of Learning and Teaching

Educational Research High School Middle School The Study Academy Report

At The Study Academy, we’re often acquainting ourselves with recent research on effective teaching strategies and structures of learning. In a recent search, we encountered an article on the website of the American Psychological Association entitled, “Top Twenty Principles From Psychology for PreK-12 Teaching and Learning” (which you can access directly here). After reading through the enclosed principles, I recognized that many of them were already underlying the framework of instruction that I’ve both witnessed and undertaken at The Study Academy. Since that’s the case, and since readers can have a glance at the principles themselves, what I’ve written below is not a summary of all 20 of the key principles outlined in the article, but instead, my own thoughts and relationship to 4 of those principles, both as an instructor and a learner.

What I quickly realized while writing was that I was gravitating toward principles that had a lot to do with personal responsibility. I think this has to do with my own personal optimism about the competency of students and the value of autonomy, but it perhaps equally has to do with the student-centred nature of instruction of The Study Academy.

So, in glorious non-chronological order, here are my thoughts:

As we are already well into the academic year, students are facing numerous types of deadlines. Deadlines are, of course, inevitable and necessary fixtures of academic proceedings. If heeded with the proper care, deadlines can incentivize students to develop crucial organizational skills that possess lifelong applicability. And yet, we all know that any kind of project quickly becomes dreary when the looming spectre of a deadline forms the sole motivation for academic progress. We know intuitively that curiosity and innovation resides in domains beyond the fear of a deadline. The ninth principle illuminates why this is the case: “students tend to enjoy learning and to do better when they are more intrinsically rather than extrinsically motivated to achieve.” The article refers to deadlines and reward systems (such as the approval of teachers and parents) as examples of extrinsic motivators. The approval of others is certainly not a bad thing in itself, but it does appear that over-reliance on it may not be the most promising enterprise. While intrinsic motivation can come in various forms, researchers say that a really important core belief to achieve it is through the understanding that learning is inherently valuable — this, the authors assert, is one major way students come to progress for their own sake. And since extrinsic conditions are unstable and impermanent, the quest for intrinsic motivation makes for a more resilient position.

So, how do we accomplish this as teachers? In my own experience in this role, I encourage autonomy through classroom discussion and debate. I always strive for a mix of designing discussion topics and allowing students to do so. In my undergraduate degree, I had an English professor who said, “Texts won’t give you answers to questions you don’t ask.” That remark made an instant impression on me. I figured since it wouldn’t be possible for me to predict the questions an instructor expected me to ask, I would necessarily be engaging in a unique and radically individual exercise by posing questions of my own devising. And certainly, as I kept asking the text questions, the more personally relevant my questions became. They became so relevant, in fact, that it felt like I was working beyond the parameters of a single assignment. Thus, when I instruct English courses now, I always put emphasis on open dialogue and reflection, and remind students of the infinity of questions they can ask. My rationale is that if they are able to strike upon an interplay of personal reference points and the work at hand, this constructs a sturdy bridge to a wealth of intrinsic motivation. Furthermore, the meaning of the work has ripple effects far outside the bounds of the particular assignment, and therefore we are not dealing only with extrinsic motivations anymore.

Of course, knowledge acquisition is not limited to gaining entirely new information; it is also about challenging and, if necessary, reshaping previous assumptions and hypotheses. Principle 2 of the article speaks to this by distinguishing between conceptual growth (gaining new information) and conceptual change (reforming old assumptions). The first stage for teachers when exploring new subject matter is to gauge which strategy needs to be employed. Lessons and evaluations provide instructors the chance to gauge the baseline level of understanding. According to the article, if the baseline understanding is in line with curricular expectations, then instructors can plan their exercises in a way that fosters conceptual growth. However, when an instructor encounters a student working under an apparent misconception, instead of simply trying to change that “wrong thinking” on the spot, the instructor might rather set the stage for that student to self-correct. A student is only able to do that, though, if he or she has the space to try and advance their idea to a deeper stage of critical investigation. A tactic I use when I lead class discussions is in a sense echoing responses back to students. If I am able to maintain a non-judgemental yet skeptical tone, it opens up room for what in some cases may be very productive doubt. Moreover, having their ideas voiced by another person can be a way to help students gain critical distance from which vantage point they can either defend, revise, or outrightly change their assertions.

Keeping with the theme of personal responsibility, Principle 7 emphasizes the importance of self-regulation, which includes a broad range of capacities needed for academic success, including attention and self-control. The article stresses that teachers can help students improve these crucial abilities. We agree, and that’s evident through our curricular offerings and daily schedules. Students practice self-regulation everyday through meditation. We organize it so that students engage in the practice in a group, but with total autonomy and control over their experience. Since the only rules are that students sit in a comfortable position in silence, we avoid imposing rigid methodology onto how they self-regulate. Students who use the brain technology games we offer have a similar level of personal freedom while honing their focus. Additionally, the Learning Strategies course can also be a great way for students to work on organizational skills needed to stay on top of course work.

Another way to think about the Learning Strategies course is as an opportunity to transfer skills. Students may learn strategies geared toward building links between separate ideas. That way, in science, they are likely to forge the connection between algae growth and aquatic ecosystems, for example. Another way to think about this academic process is through Principle 4’s discussion of contexts. The authors clarify, first of all, that all learning does in fact occur in particular contexts, and that “generalizing learning to new contexts is not spontaneous but needs to be facilitated”.

One basic question we might ask upon reading this principle is the following: What are some examples of different contexts? Another question may come about when we pay further attention to the language of the principle. How can we as educators “facilitate” both context traversal and the application of ideas from one context to another?

Let’s take one context shift that the article mentions for example: students can take textbook knowledge and see how the ideas actually operate with and animate physical environments. I now realize that this is why I was so intuitively eager to write on the annual Brain Camp (you can access the entry here) event last year. This was an end-of-year event during which students stepped into a diverse set of contexts. They took part in outdoor activities, creative projects, attended various cultural sites, and more. On a broad level, the organization of these multifarious events was the facilitation for students to engage with different contexts. For instance, science experiments gave students the chance to enter a socially interactive and highly sensory context, in contrast to the text-based study of scientific formulas and principles. Or, when students worked on film-making, they entered a context of application for which all their instruction on narrative elements came in handy. One of the substantial boons of these new levels of engagements are that they necessitate mental activity beyond the surface level. Instead of rote memorization, students considering an impressionist painting at the Art Gallery of Ontario must draw from deeper wells of curiosity and critical thinking.

And certainly, students are encouraged to jump between contexts in creative and new ways. After all, Principle 4 is all about frame-breaking and “thinking outside the box”. So, for instance, during Brain Camp when they were asked to cook (or for the assertive students who cook at home), the students might stop and think about the ways in which kitchen utensils are made with materials that optimize heat conductivity for the purpose of cooking, while stifling the distribution of heat along the handles for the purposes of safety. Such an act of application takes conductivity from the subject-specific domain of science and applies it to real life tasks and tools.

Ultimately, the article from the APA strikes me as having the potential to be incredibly useful for students, their parents, and instructors. It includes practical tips for achieving academic objectives and explains why those objectives are worthwhile. While I hope my own thoughts in this piece have made for an interesting read, I strongly encourage readers to peruse the source material, as I’ve referred to a mere fraction of what’s included in it. Happy reading!

Speakers of the Oppi Education Festival

Speakers of the Oppi Education Festival

Educational Research The Study Academy Report

For readers looking for innovative ideas in education, we may have discovered something for you to pay attention to: the Oppi Education Festival. Held in Helsinki last year, the festival will be landing a lot closer to home this year in New York. The festival is all about getting educational specialists from all around the world to congregate and share their ideas. Dubbed a festival, rather than a conference, the organizers aim for “a different type of event.” Naturally, such an event has piqued the interest of those of us at The Study Academy. We concur with Sir Ken Robinson in his assertion that our times call for revolutions in how we educate; there seems no better way to oil the wheels of that progress than by ensuring that experienced practitioners have the opportunity to share and receive ideas from their international colleagues.

Given our enduring aim to make learning personalized, we anticipate the theme of the festival this year – the role of gender in education – to inform and dialogue with issues of student-to-student differences in theoretically challenging and pedagogically useful ways. Notable speakers on gender and education who will be delivering talks include Chernor Bah and Jude Kelly. Jude Kelly, citing all kinds of female pioneers in the arts, has spoken at a plethora of events (including TEDx London) advocating for increased opportunities for women. She has extended the spirit of her vast theatre background into the founding of the Southbank Cultural Centre in London England.

While certain speakers appear to have been selected for the direct applicability of their research and work to the specific theme, there’s also an array of notable speakers covering a wider range of education-related topics. For instance, Bethany Koby, a member of the company called Technology Will Save Us, has made a strong case in past public appearances for increased integration of technology inside and outside the classroom as tools to enrich learning. In a past talk, entitled “Will Technology Save Us?,” she exhibited numerous inventions that have already been implemented and engendered productive results. She cites a framework called Maker Movement Constructivism, that she feels comprises endeavours and activities from “giant robots to knitting circles” that use making and technology to “solve problems and to explore”.

But she’s not the only one championing the benefits of experiential learning. Ben Schloger is sure to venture into that terrain as well. He has talks available online in which he’s marketed an educational technology called the Skoog, a cube-like instrument with a soft exterior that encourages tactile learning through an engagement with a three-dimensional object.

You’ll remember I mentioned that the festival is international in scope. Sometimes, challenging the status quo means looking at educational frameworks outside our national borders. For that reason, it’s fortunate that Finnish educational “guru” Pasi Sahlberg will be visiting Oppi as well. Sahlberg has professed a great deal of passion for how Finnish educators educate their students in his home country (here is a great example).

I wonder what Sahlberg would say about that…

He has also warned against a trend the educational frameworks of many nations throughout the world, a trend he refers to as GERM (Global Education Reform Movement). While this trend is too complicated to fully summarize here, it’s clear that Sahlberg wants to see a lot less emphasis on competition and standardization in schools, as well as less accountability. That last one may register as a bit curious (isn’t accountability a good thing?). In Salberg’s view, it becomes problematic when the desire of educators to be accountable to governments eclipses the desire to be responsible in the first place, to care enough about students to ensure success. And among the most admirable points of focus in Sahlberg’s talk is that there is truly a statistical link between gender equality and general quality of education.

Questioning conventional modes of learning is something we love at The Study Academy. Whether you’re interested in attending the festival itself or simply engaging with a plethora of fantastic speakers, you can find out more from the Oppi website.

Volunteerism as a Support Tool for Depression Among Teenagers

Volunteerism as a Support Tool for Depression Among Teenagers

Educational Research High School

Hello Readers,

teens-with-mde

Rates of teenage depression by age (years).

I hope you had a wonderful week and maybe even indulged in a bit of theatre (like our High School students). So, dear Readers, my questions for you today are: Looking back at this past week, what did you do with your leisure time? Did you participate in any sports? Did you catch up on your favourite television shows? Did you volunteer in your community? Well, as part of each student’s OSSD requirements and our educational vision, our students are actively encouraged to volunteer in activities they enjoy. We, as an educational institution, firmly believe that volunteering helps students to form important life skills that will promote growth in transitioning from student into responsible adult and citizen.

Recent scientific results published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences seem to reinforce the importance of volunteering! The study, conducted at Urbana Champaign at The University of Illinois, found that students who prefer more altruistic past times are less likely to experience teenage depression. These results are so significant because teenage depression is a growing concern for today’s generation of students, with 11% of adolescents being diagnosed before the age of 19. In finding a place where students enjoy their volunteering experience, we can work together to find another preventative measure to assist struggling students!

Ventral Stratium

A diagram of the brain pinpointing the location of the ventral stratium, our reward centre.

So, how does volunteering help prevent depression? Well, Eva Telzer and her colleagues at the university discovered — while using a functional brain scan — that activity in the Ventral Striatum (the reward centre of the brain) in response to different rewards predicted whether the subjects’ depressive symptoms would worsen or lessen over time. When teenagers showed higher levels of reward activation in the ventral striatum in the context of the risk-taking task, they showed increases in depressive symptoms over time. In contrast, when a teenager showed higher reward activation in the pro-social context, they showed declines in depression over time. So then what does this all really mean? One implication is that meaningful and enjoyable student volunteerism (which promotes social connection) may be used to shape internal reward systems through varying activity in the Ventral Striatum. Further, community service may provide more to a body of students than just an OSSD requirement, it may help to promote stronger mental health.

If you are interested in reading more about this seminal study, you can find the article here:

H. Telzer, A. J. Fuligni, M. D. Lieberman, A. Galvan. Neural sensitivity to eudaimonic and hedonic rewards differentially predict adolescent depressive symptoms over time. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2014; DOI: http://www.scn.ucla.edu/pdf/TelzerLieberman2014PNAS.pdf

Survey Results: Educational Expectations and Opinion of Teachers

Survey Results: Educational Expectations and Opinion of Teachers

Educational Research

Hello Readers,

As promised, I am going to have today’s blog post be about the results of the Teachers Opinion survey. Like in my  previous post about the Student Opinion results, this survey reflects how individuals, in particular Educators,  feel about their experiences within the Educational system. Overall, the survey asked for the opinions on varying subject matter and included a mixture of both male and females teachers with an age range of 25 to 50. So let’s get started shall we?

http://joshsherin.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/self_improvement.jpg

http://joshsherin.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/self_improvement.jpg

Teachers do indeed want to see their students prosper, especially when it comes to their students’ future career path. Similar to the opinions of the students, there was a strong agreement that Education should be a tool for career preparation. However, teachers felt more strongly that Education should also be a place where one can develop intellectually (83.3%) and foster self improvement (66.3%). In fact, 60% agreed that Educational institutions should spend more time and resources assessing and addressing each student’s needs. This paralleled the agreement that there needs to me more classroom aids.

All agreed there should be greater communication between parents and themselves regarding the child’s learning development as well as greater communication between parents and child to reinforce their efforts as Educators. It is, however a very careful line to tread for parents when getting involved with their child’s education and teachers do recognize this. One reported that, “As an educator, I found that parents who where actively involved in their child’s education performed better at school. However, the parents should not be so involved that they become a hindrance to their child’s education. I have also believed that both parents and educator should be scaffolds for the children.” So you see, there needs to be a healthy balance between all three participants for the child to grown and prosper in their school environment.

Neurofeedback training for ADHD

An example of how The Study Academy implements research into our school!

Educators who took the survey all felt that they should only be educated in the field, but  also agreed that schools should be completing research in the classroom as another way of providing an enriching educational environment for students. However, while there was agreement that schools should be implementing new research findings into teachings, there was still 17% that disagreed with this.  One possible explanation of this can be found in the response of one of the survey participants: “I agree schools should be implementing new research findings into teaching practice. However, teachers need to be properly in-serviced to implement these new practices. Too many times, teachers are left on their own with insufficient training to interpret new findings.  As a result, these practices fall to the wayside because the teachers were not properly prepared.” So in this way, research can indeed be useful,  but must be carefully implemented to ensure the best possible outcome.

Overall I hope these results have given you, my readers, a good perception of how Educators truly feel about the current Educational System. Perhaps some of the results even gave you a pleasant surprise? Well. I certainly tip my hat off to these diligent individuals who serve future generations through their guidance and instruction. Don’t you?

 

The Study Academy Lab Campaign : Turning Science into Smarts

The Study Academy Lab Campaign : Turning Science into Smarts

Educational Research High School Middle School

Hello Readers,

I also wanted to mention to you all the exciting news about The Study Academy Lab’s campaign to build the first Canadian K-12 Educational Research Lab! In an interview with Principle Jason Krell, he states that “there has been some considerable work going on to initiate funding for not just research activities, but for a fully operational lab at The Study Academy.”

Neurfeedback training for ADHDWell, today they have launched their campaign with an Indiegogo crowd-funding platform and an additional video to communicate their vision (http://vimeo.com/69015735) .The footage was taken by Vlad Lunin (http://vladlunin.com/)  at the school and is a mixture of the old and new; old in the images of the building and in the personal interaction between student and teacher, and new in the implementation of novel and groundbreaking technologies (Neurofeedback headsets in school).

The video conveys The Study’ Academy’s Lab’s motto of turning “Science into Smarts”. The lab will work on the premise that change in Education must be recognized from the grass-root level, with the emergence of empirical evidence. In fact, it is the Study Academy’s vision to develop such empirical evidence with tools and methods for training wisdom through developing cognition, training attention, and goal setting.

The three main goals of the lab are

  1. To bridge the gap between research and pedagogy which the public and private school systems have ignored. We will be researching methods and tools that will augment traditional learning processes and replace worn out teaching models.
  2. To give students the ability to better use their brains to allow for more effective learning. In other words, we want to train students to intelligently use their intelligence.
  3. To design tools and better implement technology that will train students’ attention, problem solving abilities, thinking and rationality. In essence, we want students to gain not only knowledge but wisdom as well.

The research lab will offer an unprecedented opportunity to work with existing basic research findings from the fields of Cognitive Science, Psychology and Neuroscience and to generate and test hypotheses in the classroom.

Also,w e have a great team to head this growing research lab, including Patrick K Dolecki as the Research Coordinator, Jason Krell, John Vervaeke  (http://www.newcollege.utoronto.ca/academics/new-college-academic-programs/buddhism-psychology-and-mental-health/centre-for-buddhism-and-psychology/the-buddhism-psychology-mental-health-program/faculty/dr-john-vervaeke/), a University of Toronto Professor and our Research Advisor and Anderson Todd as our Creative Advisor. They have all been working hard to create this facility from the ground up!

John Vervake giving a talk about Mindfulness Meditation at a Ted Talk at U of T

That is why we need your help, Readers. Through the website Indiegogo, The Study Academy hopes to raise money that will assist their researching and designing projects.The funding will contribute to such things as providing wages for the research team, pay for a 3D printer, new hardware (including neurofeedback, headsets, eye tracking devices and motion detection cameras), cloud back up services to secure data, software and a small business server to handle such lab software.

The Study Academy Lab will be of great interest to a rather wide audience including families of school aged children who have an interest in new educational model that will empower their children and prepare them for the careers and independence that await them; to educators and school administrators who support the need for the educational reform and progressive and evidence based teaching methods; and to students who have an interest in participating in learning activities directed towards their specific profile.

Thus, it is the hope of The Study Academy to join the conversation of what education “should be” and how it will reform in the coming years. Here at The Study Academy  “we not only want to teach students, we want to make them smarter.” Please help support our cause so we can create a better tomorrow for students. They deserve it.

Survey Results: Educational Expectations and Opinions of Students

Survey Results: Educational Expectations and Opinions of Students

Educational Research The Study Academy Report

Hello Readers,

As promised, I come to you today with the results of last week’s Education Opinions Survey. However, due to the incoming data, I will be splitting the results over the span of three weeks, so I can discuss them from the point of views of the student, the parents as well as the teachers.

Social Studies teach critical thinking, communication, and collaboration.So, today’s results reflect students’ opinions on varying subject matter, ranging from class subjects, teachers, educational research and the future of schools. I would like it to be known that these were general feelings regarding education and do not necessarily reflect opinions regarding The Study Academy. The survey targeted current students within Toronto and recently graduated students from highschool. The reason for this is because they would have had ample amount of experience within the Ontario Educational system from which to draw their opinions. This is also the reason why younger middle school students were not used.

Considering the results all together, students thought of education in a diverse and complicated manner. While they believed education should be a tool for career preparation, they also strongly felt education should be a place of self discovery and where one can develop intellectually. It was also interesting to see that fifty percent said they saw education as stepping stone to more academic opportunities later in life.

Middle School classes are taught in small classesIn terms of how students saw their teachers, majority of the participants in the survey also strongly agreed that teachers need to be educated in the main subject field in which they teach. Furthermore, teachers should continually upgrade upon these skills by attending courses.

Students believed the communal efforts between parents, teacher and child, as well as the focused resources on a child’s learning development was indeed important. students feel there needs to be more communication between their parents and teachers about their learning development, as well as communication between their parents and self (as a student) to reinforce teacher’s effort. However, only sixty percent thought these changes was likely to happen any time soon. In addition, students also felt that it was unlikely that the current educational system would have the resources to assist troubled students sooner so that they do not fall behind.

Perhaps in response to this pessimism in Ontario’s educational system, majority of sample thought private Education was a good alternative method.  However, eighty percent of students thought home schooling was not a good alternative means of education.

Neurfeedback training for ADHDNevertheless, now we come to the most interesting part of the data! As many of my readers know The Study Academy is hoping to become the first  K – 12 Educational Research facility, therefore I thought it was necessary to ask students how they would feel if they had the opportunity to have research more intertwined within their educational experience. In terms of education structure and teaching methods, I was quite happy to find that 100 percent agreed that schools should be completing research in the classroom, which is precisely what The Study Academy intends to do! Everyone also agreed Educational institutions should be implementing new research findings into teaching practice. These results bode quite well for the continuing campaign to fund the future lab. That being said, if you are interested please visit the below website to find out more about The Study Academy Research Lab and perhaps even donate to a lab that will harness the power of neuroplasticity (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neuroplasticity) to develop smarter students:

http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-study-research-lab

Also stay tuned for the next two weeks as you discover the results for Teachers and Parents Education Opinions!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Impact of Nature AND Nurture on Your Child’s Reading Development

The Impact of Nature AND Nurture on Your Child’s Reading Development

Educational Research

Hello Readers,

I want to tell you about one of the first studies to show their relative roles of nature and nurture in how quickly or slowly children’s reading skills improve over time (http://psycnet.apa.org/journals/dev/49/10/1971). Dr. Sara Hart (http://www.psy.fsu.edu/faculty/hart.dp.html) and colleagues from The Ohio State University they tested the environments and reading abilities of children to discover the differences in children’s reading abilities. 371 twin pairs of fraternal and identical twins from ages 6 to 12 were put into groups and tested every year for six years. Each child was given a 90-minute battery of reading-based measures including word and letter identification, the ability to sound out words and the speed at which children could name a series of letters.

http://cdn2.hubspot.net/hub/92785/file-5415157-jpg/images/nature-vs-nurture-resized-600.jpg

http://cdn2.hubspot.net/hub/92785/file-5415157-jpg/images/nature-vs-nurture-resized-600.jpg

The researchers compared how twins scored on the tests and then used a statistical analysis to determine how much growth in their performance could be explained by genetics and how much by environmental factors.They used a technique “phenotypic and genetically sensitive latent growth modeling” to pull apart the influences of  nature and nurture on kids’ reading levels”. Essentially what this means is that the inclusion of fraternal and identical twins allows for them to discover how much was due to genetics and how much was due to environmental reasons for a child’s reading development. If identical twins read identically while fraternal read differently than the difference would be genetics as opposed to environment.

The results found that when children start out reading, both genetics and environment play a role in reading skills. For example in their tests word and letter identification, genetics explained about one-third, while for vocabulary and sound awareness, it was 50/50 for genetics and environment. However, the author commented that, “ the genetic influences related to how quickly or slowly a student grows in their reading skill are not the same as the genetic influences on their skill at the first assessment. In other words, some new genetic component related to growth is coming online after that first assessment wave, and it is influencing development.” This means that some another genetic reason for reading development activates at a later point in at child’s educational years, in particular around kindergarten age.

Afterwards, however when “environmental factors increase mean reading performance across all children”. For reading skills that are taught, such as words and letters, the environment is almost completely responsible for growth.In addition, the awareness of sounds in reading, 80 percent of growth was explained by the environment.The authors of the study commented that it is indeed quite critical in the early years to choose a school that will serve your child’s reading development well. The moral, i suppose, is to choose a school and to choose it very wisely!

A Year in Review at The Study Academy

A Year in Review at The Study Academy

Educational Research High School Middle School

Hello Readers,

with classes ending, its been making me think of all that’s happened through the year. I’ve tried to share them all with you each and every week. We have also discussed many of the recent and pressing issues in Education and research. I must say, it  has definitely been quite exciting each and every week.

When I first was approached to write for The Study Academy’s blog, I was shocked. The first concern that came to my mind was how could I make these posts relevant to you, the Reader. I knew it had to be about The Study Academy, but I felt there just had to be something more. It came to me one morning- Theoretical Thursdays!  In addition to Tuesday’s The Study Academy Reports, Theoretical Thursdays has come to comprise the basis for this blog.Neurfeedback training for ADHD

The posts these past few months have been diverse, but I hope they have been informative. On every Tuesday’s The Study Academy Report I tried to detail to you all the exciting happenings going on at school, both in the Highschool and Middle School sections. In some of my posts, I’ve written about the Neurofeedback training at The Study Academy lab, or the Study Academy’s small class sizes.  I also detailed to you about the exciting volunteering abroad opportunity that some of the students took in Nicaragua and the array of activities during Inspire Week. In the last remaining weeks, as things slowed down I spoke about the music classes available, the anti bullying policies at the school, the structured educational system, the theatrical performances by students, and the exciting new work happening at The Study Academy lab.

Teaching methods based on graduate research in action!Likewise , every Theoretical Thursday you, the Reader, were provided with the exciting research happening around the world and its relevance to Education and your child. You learned about the lasting effects of smaller class sizes, the self control technique of Mindfulness, the importance of divergent thinking in children, and the exciting new method of detecting autism.  In addition, I discussed the importance of music and goal setting for children, while using the most up to date and relevant research. Those who read my previous posts also learned the dangers of stereotype threat for young girls who like Math and the ways to prevent their impact, as well as how to use the structure of memory to one’s advantage so children will not forget their lessons over the break.

To say the least, we have had some very good time this year at The Study Academy, however summer is finally here, so we are going to have to say goodbye to our regular Tuesday posts, The Study Academy Report. The final The Study Academy Report will be next week . It will be detailing the last days of Brain Camp. However, it will be replaced with a new opinion section. All my readers will now get an opportunity to interact and really give your opinions about Education and Research. So, definitely don’t stop dropping by on Tuesday; instead come as you are and bring your opinions with you!

Theoretical Thursday: Preventing Female Students from Losing their Love of Math!

Theoretical Thursday: Preventing Female Students from Losing their Love of Math!

Educational Research

Hello Readers,

Do any of you have or know little girls who like math? Are they good at math? The reason why I am asking you these questions is because there has been a growing concern that young girls are shying away from mathematics as they grow older. In this month’s journal of Child Development (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/cdev.12128/abstract) , it was shown that girls as young as six subconsciously bias themselves away from mathematics, which negatively impacts the development of their math ability. Essentially, her confidence fades and eventually her skills and drive to learn fade away too.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/65/Stereotype_threat_-_osborne_2007.png

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/65/Stereotype_threat_-_osborne_2007.png

One of the reasons postulated was based off the idea of Stereotype threat. Stereotype threat is the idea that one becomes fearful that one will act in ways that confirm the perceived stereotype. Girls, therefore, may be anxious that they may act according to the stereotype of girls being poor of math, and therefore shy away from the subject. Studies have shown this to be the case. Stereotype threat claims space in one’s working memory and therefore leaves one with less space for the mental manipulation that express themselves through intelligent thought patterns.

Researchers from this month’s Child Development worked with 276 first-graders to examine the boundaries of Stereotype threat and how girls can overcome it. The children were divided into groups and were asked to colour a picture. Simple enough, right? Well wait, there’s more. A third of the children colored a picture showing a girl solving a math problem at a blackboard while a boy sat in the front row watching, while another third colored a picture of a boy solving a math problem while a girl watched, and lastly another third colored a landscape. After the students were done then the researchers had students do a few math questions .

The results indicated that girls who felt they were under stereotype threat were negatively impacted by colouring the picture of a math-active boy and a math-passive girl. They added numbers more slowly and with less accurately. A little girl’s love and confidence in her math skills should not be dictated by her social surroundings. It only takes an active approach from a mother, a father, a brother, a sister, or even her teachers to help feed the young girl’s thirst for knowledge and confidence so she can succeed!

Till next time!