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.

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: Enriching Benefits of Drama Education

Theoretical Thursday: Enriching Benefits of Drama Education

Educational Research High School

Hello Readers,

I hope you booked some time off work either Monday or Tuesday next week to see the Highschool students’ performance! If not, then hop to it ladies and gentleman because you have the great opportunity of seeing the enriching benefits of Drama education. Speaking of which, in today’s post I hope to demonstrate the benefits of Drama education in a child’s development.

What I have found through a meta analysis of research is that Drama Education can have a highly positive impact on a student’s physical, emotional, cognitive and social development. Being on stage and acting as whole, requires a great amount of movement! With practice it has been shown to improve flexibility, coordination, balance and control. These physical activities can also reduce the pain of physical stress that would otherwise negatively impact a child’s physical development. Not bad, eh? Well, I’m not done yet, so keep reading, my fellow Readers.

http://www.meaningcentered.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/Figure3.jpg

http://www.meaningcentered.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/Figure3.jpg

Emotionally, a child also benefits from being engaged in Dramatic education. For instance, acting roles from different time periods, situations and cultures promotes tolerance of other people’s feelings, as well as a a deeper understanding of child’s own emotions. It will encourage self understanding as well as self confidence in a child’s own ideas and abilities which can be applied apply to all aspects of their lives.

There has indeed also been experimental results on benefits of theatre on a child’s cognitive development as well. Studies have indicated that children who were involved in theatre show higher levels in concentration & self discipline, problem solving as well as memory. There are various reasons for this, but I will keep it short and sweet.  While rehearsing and performing, memory is strengthened no differently than like a muscle. it also requires a good deal amount of focus attention & self control, both of which help students, especially those who experience attentional difficulties.

Probably the most obvious benefit theatre has is to a child’s social development. A child involved with theatre develops both their cooperative as well as communicative skills. Verbal and non verbal expression, as well as, listening and observation skills are key skills when rehearsing or performing. This also requires cooperation while negotiating ideas and boundaries. In addition, children can experience an increase in social awareness beyond their self. In this way, Drama can teach a child of the world and help them put things into perspective.

I know that I have written quite a bit today, so I would like to provide you with a link for point form note son the many benefits of a drama education. You can find it at the following link:

http://www.dramaed.net/benefits.pdf

In addition, if you are a teacher and would like to learn more on how to integrate drama into your classroom, may I suggest you check out the wonderful magazine article from Canada’s educational magazine:

http://www.cea-ace.ca/education-canada/article/dramatic-ways-engage-every-student

 So, taking into consideration all the benefits Drama can provide a child, don’t you think it’s about time to get your child on stage? Tell me what you think, Readers!
Theoretical Thursday: The Positive Effects of Music on Children

Theoretical Thursday: The Positive Effects of Music on Children

The Study Academy Report

Hello Readers,

Over the past week and a half, my posts have divulged the creative endeavors  of The Study Academy and the results of scientists on the effects of such creativity in the classroom.  In particular, I discussed the importance of creativity and innovation in fostering divergent thinking in young students (http://thestudyacademy.ca/theoretical-thursday-creativity-innovation-education/). I had also mentioned this week that music classes have been made available at The Study Academy, and therefore students are being given another opportunity to foster such thinking processes (http://thestudyacademy.ca/study-academy-report-music-classes-study-academy/). However, the importance of music goes  beyond divergent thinking.

divergent thinking, creativity and music In one study by North & colleagues (2000), research stated that music allows children to satisfy their emotional needs, both while listening and when actively involved in music making. Active participation in music classes has also been found to enhance a student’s prelinguistic communicative gestures and social development, in particular social behaviour. (Gerry et. al., 2012).

Because of such capacities of music to affect us so deeply, therapies for students with attentional difficulties  and Autism Spectrum Disorder have been proven to be quite effective. Music therapy is one type of therapy available to those with attentional difficulties and Autism Spectrum Disorder. The idea is that a certified music therapist uses music (and its capacity to affect one physically , emotionally , mentally, and socially) to help clients to improve or maintain their health. Musical interventions have been designed to mange stress, alleviate pain, enhance memory, improve communication and promote physical rehabilitation too.

SCOPEThere are in fact a few brain based reasons why music works in such beneficial ways for us. Firstly, you must understand that music has always had a core function in our brain. My goodness, from an evolutionary standpoint, music precedes even language! Even day old infants, who are still developing, can detect patterns in music. For this reason, it seem that music has some basic engrained influence over us. One of the more important reasons made available, is that we have emotional and physiologic responses to music. We can experience anything from our heart rates increasing to chills down our spine depending on the types of melodies that reach our ears. On the other hand, music also taps into our emotions, and  allows one to easily access our emotions in a beneficial and therapeutic manner. Therefore, in trained hands, music has the capacity to effectively help. In this respect, music can definitely serve as a positive instrument for students who experience challenges in the classroom.

For a student suffering from attentional difficulties , music can bolster attention and focus, while reducing their hyperactivity. It is the structure within music that can help them. The reason for this is because the rhythm within the music can allow the child to plan, anticipate and react in a structured way. With time and practice, a child with attentional difficulties  can apply their strategies they have learned from music to the classroom.

Music therapy patient needs tables music selectionsMusic therapy is useful with children with Autism Spectrum Disorder Disorder also owing to the noted sensitivity Autistic Spectrum Disorder patients have to music. Evidence of this is shown in a study found in the Pertanika Journal (2012). Over a ten month period, when weekly music therapy sessions were given to children for an hour, there were notable improvements made in inattentive behaviour, restlessness, aggression, and noisiness.

Overall research has shown that music does indeed have quite a positive effect on many children! I will leave you today with a picture summary of some of the things I have discussed today and hope that maybe the next time you listen to your Ipod, you will wonder too, what your music is doing for you.

http://www.onlinecolleges.net/2012/06/20/music-learning/

Theoretical Thursday: Challenges of Executive Dysfunction in Academic Setting and Possible Treatment

Theoretical Thursday: Challenges of Executive Dysfunction in Academic Setting and Possible Treatment

Middle School

Hello Readers,

Our executive functions involve high level cognitive activities such as flexible thinking, focusing,regulating one’s alertness, regulating emotions, organizing and prioritizing, the ability to access one’s working memories, a well as one’s ability to self monitor their own thoughts and behaviors. In exercising our executive function, we are able to set goals, organize our tasks, prepare  our documents for the day and double check that we have everything we need before we dash out the door.

ExecutiveFunctionTasks

For a student the activities of their executive function helps them to meet the demands as they enter middle school and high-school where independence and efficiency are necessary skills. However what about those individuals who have dysfunctional  executive functioning? How do they function and manage with everyday activities? So today, I want to continue with our discussion on major executive functioning in the brain. In particular, I would like to pay attention to how executive dysfunction can impact a student’s academic as well as everyday life and possible methods for them to overcome it.

Typically those with ADHD have dysfunctional executive functions (http://www.webmd.com/add-adhd/executive-function). The addition of a Learning Disability to an ADHD diagnosis appears to be associated with even worse executive dysfunction, and those with Executive Function Disorder struggle with executing daily tasks. For those individuals who suffers from these diagnoses, an analogy has been created to explain their executive function weaknesses- the “clogged funnel”. Essentially, the skills coordinated by the executive function areas of the brain become “stuck”, causing the information for the task to get “clogged” and so the student struggles to produce the correct results to complete the task.

executive-functions-impaired-ADD-ADHDThis is why such students may have trouble with open ended/ independent tasks due to inability to ‘unstick’ the higher cognitive skill set necessary to prioritize and organize their thoughts and or tasks. Likewise they may also have difficulty constructing a “bigger picture”. These students who cannot seem to “unclog the tunnel” may try incredibly hard and yet still be labelled lazy, or become frustrated or anxious, and as a result, make less effort towards their school work.

However, there are working solutions, research shows, that can assist students with executive weakness and help them overcome their personal challenges. For instance, Cognitive Behavioral therapy is a frequently suggested treatment and has showed a significant increased in positive treatment outcomes compared with individual therapy. 16 different executive related items were reduced following the treatment. Psychosocial treatments is another promising alternative. It is complicated and difficult to apply, however has been shown to show improvements in areas of time management and organization.

In addition, there are a few things parents can do to help students in addition. Firstly, parents can help their children set well defined goals for projects and studying for tests. In addition to this helping their child divide and conquer upcoming assignments will make it more likely to accomplish such goals. Encouraging their children to design personalized checklists based off of common mistakes also ensures that tasks completely to the criteria and handed in on time.

 

Theoretical Thursday: Education, Neurofeedback Training and Attention

Theoretical Thursday: Education, Neurofeedback Training and Attention

Middle School

Hello again!

Today on this Theoretical Thursday I want to continue from Tuesday’s post by expanding our discussion on Neurofeedback. I know, that in my first Theoretical Thursday Blog post last week that I had hinted there was going to be discussion on the scientific literature on study habits, but I feel that this is far more relevant to you, my readers. Don’t you worry, there will be plenty of time to get into that later on.

So, in my Tuesday post, I had defined Neurofeedback as, “ a type of feedback based off of the ionic current flows within the neurons of the brain.The electrical recordings from the scalp measure the flow of the ionic current that changes depending on the mental activity.” I had also mentioned that it is of current scientific interest in how Neurofeedback can be used to reduce attentional issues.

I believe this is an incredibly important issue that needs to be addressed by Science for the sake of our Educational system. The reason for this is because such a growing population struggles with deficits in attention of a neurologically based that affect their ability to learn, and prosper in an academic setting.

Aside from The Study Academy, there have been a good amount of research that has come out recently on the prospects of Neurofeedback training for those diagnosed with ADHD.

At the Tuffs Medical Center in Boston, where the team of the Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics department, tested the the efficacy of two computer-based attention training systems, one with and one without neurofeedback using 19 schools. Students received three 45 minutes sessions a week over the span of four months. After each session results were measured using three measures:

T-SKAMP- completed by teachers which assessed symptoms of ADHD in the classroom

PERMP- completed by students which was assessed based off of a student’s speed and accuracy.

BOSS- this was a double-blind objective classroom observations

The results indicated that those students in the Neurofeedback group showed improvement in all three measures; improvement in accuracy and speed, a decreased in attentional issues, and increased engagement within the classroom.

These sort of results are particularly exciting for the Educational and Health community when one also considers that Neurofeedback has recently been shown in research to have long term beneficial effects on ADHD! This is a factor that medicine based care has had considerable trouble in doing for those who are diagnosed with ADHD.

Palliative pharmaceutical therapy has dominated both research investment and publication. However, while these methods of palliative care have received the most attention, it leaves the underlying causes predominately unchanged.  It is the the Anterior Cingulate Cortex (ACC) which is so key in regulating attention, and with which whose dysfunction has been shown to be associated with attentional issues.

Studies in Neurofeedback training do in fact show the capacity to counteract, and normalize the dysfunctions in the ACC with regards to attention. Having participants engage in a process where they are attenuating peripheral signals and enhancing relevant signals, individuals initiate one of the necessary conditions for cognitive development. Furthermore, through repetitive reinforcement  of this regime, individuals can further reinforce the same neural pathway.

In this respect, i seem to find Neurofeedback to be an exciting alternative to palliative methods of dealing with attentional issues, especially within our Educational setting.

If you are interested in some extra reading, may I suggest the following:

Gani, C., Birbaumer, N., Strehl, U. (2008) Long term effects after feedback of slow cortical potentials and of theta-beta-amplitudes in children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). International Journal of Bioelectromagnetism, 10 (4), 209 – 232.

http://www.ijbem.org/volume10/number4/100402.pdf

Arns, M., De Ritter, D., Strehl, U., Breteler, M., Coenen, A. (2009). Efficacy of neurofeedback treatment in ADHD: The effects on inattention, impulsivity and hyperactivity: A meta-analysis. Clinical EEG and Neuroscience, 40(3), 180-189.

http://www.addcentre.com/page35/Pages/neurofeedback.html

They are both insightful and quite interesting in their conclusions.

 

Neurofeedback in the Classroom

Neurofeedback in the Classroom

Middle School

Hello Readers,

As I mentioned in my first post, today is the beginning of my new Tuesday series, “The Study Academy Report”. Witty, eh? Well, the intention behind this series is to inform you all of what is going on within the walls of The Study Academy, ranging from the student’s events all the way to the most interesting scientific endeavors. I will give you down to the detail reports as well as interviews and pictures whenever possible.

Attentional Training through NeurofeedbackToday I wanted to tell you all about the fascinating Neurofeedback training going on at The Study Academy. Some of you may be asking, “Well that sounds all fine and dandy, but what IS Neurofeedback?”  Essentially, it is a type of feedback based off of the ionic current flows within the neurons of the brain.The electrical recordings from the scalp measure the flow of the ionic current that change depending on the mental activity.

The Neurofeedback network at The Study Academy utilizes Mindwave hardware with Focus Pocus software to measure attention of the student participants.  Focus Pocus was founded through the cooperation of  University of Wollongong’s Psychology Department and NeuroCog Solutions:

http://media.uow.edu.au/releases/UOW068098.html

Many of the participants in The Study Academy’s program range in their ability to maintain attention. The training provided through the Neurofeedback

mindwave_1rewards individuals for attending effectively by allowing them to succeed in the game, and this can foster one to further attend one’s attentional resources. As the student increases desired forms of mind patterns, they will improve at playing the game on the computer.

I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to try one of the games and it was a blast! I played as a wizard who had to use all my power to zap the opposing evil wizard. The only way I could succeed was by focusing my attention. It was actually so much fun I forgot this was science, however the Neurofeedback training research is part of an existing literature seeking to reduce many attentional issues, including ADHD.

The way that Neurofeedback can assist in attention issues is based off of the idea of operant conditioning. This is very important form of learning because it is a reoccurring process throughout our entire development and even into our older years. In theory, Neurofeedback is suppose to reduce attentional issues similar to how one would work out a body- through repetitive training. Having the students participate in Neurofeedback frequently would allow them to repeat particular brain activity pattern and remodel the structure of the brain as a result. This is called neuroplasticity, and can result in new and exciting changes in brain activity.

arrows

That being said, The Study Academy endeavors to provide the scientific as well as educational communities, their insights into this developing training regime for attention. In fact, I suggest that you drop by the blog on Thursday and I discuss the scientific research evidenced so far in Neurofeedback training and how other educational institutions take it into consideration.

 

Cya soon!