The Study Academy, inspired and influenced by the field of Mind, Brain, and Education participates actively in educational research. As a school designed with scale and nimbleness in mind, we are able to identify key areas for research and actively translate empirical findings into the classroom. The overarching principle behind our research is to create virtuous cycles of learning — wherein teaching practice and classroom structure generate testable hypotheses and research outcomes are translated into teaching and learning strategies.
In particular, we have several “big picture” questions that guide our research:
How can adaptive “21st-century” skills be fostered and developed in the classroom?
How can the principles of Universal Design for Learning be implemented into our “social experience” philosophy of classroom learning?
How can teachers empower students to grow greater self-awareness and self-efficacy?
What methods and analytic processes can be used to provide a richer understanding of student growth and development?
In pursuit of empirical solutions to these problems, The Study Academy will have continuous research projects and programs running. Consistent with our belief that manuscript publication is one of the more effective channels of connection with basic researchers, The Study Academy will target conference presentations and manuscript publications as deliverables for each of the in-situ and theoretical research activities completed at the school.
Cognitive development is a non-linear process, described as a punctuated equilibrium (ebbs and flows), with each stage of progress representing a milestone in complexity of development. These stages have been described, understood, and modelled (Dynamic Skill Theory) by the Harvard Graduate School of Education research group (lead by Dr. Kurt Fischer), and strongly indicate the need for academic metrics beyond GPA. In this theoretical experiment, an individual’s cognitive development curve was mathematically modelled and analyzed using a novel technique (Recursive Quantitative Analysis [RQA]), commonly implemented with complex, dynamical systems in the health sciences (e.g. EMG, EEG). The purpose of the investigation was to determine whether RQA exhibited sufficient sensitivity to differentiate between different types of changes in trajectory to the development curve that may have resulted from an intervention. Results revealed that RQA was able to differentiate between pre and post conditions, supporting that it move to empirical testing.
The importance of selective attention as a requisite condition for cognitive development has been well established through empirical evidence and philosophical argument, and is further supported through personal observation. Basic research on attention training has effectively identified the neuronal activity associated with attention, as well as the training effect size (comparable to pharmacological treatments), and has provided external validity through testing a wide variety of populations. What is missing from the literature (and our primary interest) is the applied research – establishing links between changes in attention and work habits, and cognitive development. This presentation (IMBES, 2014) was centred on encouraging the research community to implement more testing of NT in the classroom and to invite criticism of existing methods.
Neurofeedback Training (NT) has a track record of efficacious treatment of ADHD symptoms. With the exception of recent research by the Tufts group, empirical (basic) studies have focussed on determining the effect size of NT in comparison to pharmacological solutions and other relevant psychotechnologies. Given that attention is a requisite capacity for learning, the authors of this abstract are interested in investigating NT in applied (classroom) settings to build an understanding of the relationship between changes in directed, sustained attention (as generated by participation in a classroom NT protocol) and learning behaviours and work habits. Specifically, it is hypothesized that NT can be used in a classroom to build greater capacity for sustained, directed attention and that these changes in attention will yield improvements in scholastic efficacy, namely in areas of learning skills and work habits.
Initial (pilot) data revealed individual student improvements in attention (as measured by decreased presence/frequency of ADHD symptoms), as well as increased initiative taking and independence in completing scholastic work.
The implications of this research are severalfold; further in-situ research investigating NT as a capacity building tool is required, repeatability with larger and varied samples requires testing, and NT holds potential as a translation tool between basic research and classroom teaching practice.
Inspired Ideas & Findings
The Study Academy gratefully acknowledges research support from the following individuals:
Jeff Orr & Lee Moore
Thank you for supporting the research initiatives of The Study Academy.