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.

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.

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!