A team of academics from Auckland University’s Centre for Brain Research and School of Psychology has produced an objective overview of 15 computer-based and group or whole class behavioural intervention programs that are designed to remediate learning disorders.
They point out that advances in the scientific understanding of disorders such as dyslexia, dyscalculia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have paved the way for the development of programs aimed at helping the estimated one in five students with these disorders.
Their work will help parents and educators filter through and make decisions about remedial programs and the technology.
As far as I know, this is the first time an independent summary of these remediation programs has been available in one spot. So congratulations to the University of Auckland’s George Dawson, Stephanie D'Souza, Dr. David Moreau & Dr Karen Waldie.
The only similar independent study I am aware of was a review of the outcomes of various reading programs used by several hundred schools done by the Nevada State Department of Education.
But rather than a review of the research which was the University of Auckland approach, the Nevada study focussed on actual outcomes achieved by schools using the programs and compared their effectiveness.
No commercial interest
Because the university has no commercial interest in any remedial program - unlike Macquarie University which developed the Multi Lit reading tutor program - there is no conflict of interest in their report.
The review focussed on remedial programs only, and not on other aspects that some of the programs also address – such as the English Language Learning, and learning capacity development of programs like Fast ForWord.
Another feature of the report is that distinguishes between research on some of the products, where that product is now discontinued versus research on products where the product is continuing to evolve. This information is helpful for educators and parents wanting to make informed decisions.
For example the report says about Fast ForWord:
The vast majority of studies investigating the Fast ForWord programme have focused on the precursor to Language v2. This is true for studies showing evidence for and against the programme’s effectiveness. Consequently, the efficacy of the current redesigned Language Series is yet to be determined.
In their introduction to the report, the research team commented on their methodology and its limitations:
“We want to emphasise that none of the sections in this report are definitive. Science is a collaborative enterprise, moving forward collectively, and we make no specific predictions regarding the future of each programme. Rather, as we mentioned, we have assessed and synthesised the evidence currently available to us in order to help parents, educators and policy-makers reach better, more informed conclusions”.
Comparison of features of four well known programs
If you want to extend your research, the features of four well known programs - three included in the Auckland review (Arrowsmith, Cogmed & Fast ForWord ) plus the Feuerstein program - can be seen here.