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How to Evaluate Conflicting Research About Educational Programs

Posted by David Stanley on July 7, 2021 at 2:32 PM

David Stanley

I heard from a school about the great results they are getting from a neuroscience program.  Then one of my staff pointed out a meta analysis that is critical of the program. I can’t understand why supposedly gold standard research - a meta analysis - is saying something totally different from what I hear is happening in other schools.” 

That’s what a school principal said to us.

She understood the value of educational neuroscience and was considering whether to use the Fast ForWord neuroscience program in her school to assist teachers to help improve students' learning and reading abilities.

The meta analysis was published in 2010, using research from the previous decade. The authors, Strong et al, selected 5 of 79 published studies they had found on Fast ForWord.

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Topics: Fast ForWord, Educational Neuroscience

It’s the Law: Every Child Must Read at Grade Level by Year 3

Posted by Moya Gibb-Smith on August 3, 2020 at 2:12 PM

Something had to be done!

So, with a vote of 92-3 the Alabama state parliament enacted the Alabama Literacy Act beginning in 2020 to ensure that every child was reading at grade level by Year 3.

They nominated a task force to recommend a comprehensive core reading program and assessments to be used by local schools and that job fell to Tim Solley.

Solley is a kindly, bespectacled, grey-haired man who looks like he could be your kid’s soccer coach. In fact, he is a leading educational advocate and the Assistant Superintendent of the Madison School District which comprises 17 different schools.

Solley takes up the story:

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Topics: School, Fast ForWord, Learning Capacity Success Stories, Educational Neuroscience, Teaching

Educational Neuroscience:  A Wave of Change for Teachers & Students

Posted by Peter Barnes on March 2, 2020 at 1:25 PM

Peter Barnes

Is educational neuroscience a legitimate area of knowledge which can help teachers and students, or is it mostly "neurobabble" as some articles in the Melbourne Age and in The Conversation have recently suggested?

The authors of both these articles correctly point out that there is an increasing amount of brain-based language in education discussions. And also that much of the 'brain' and 'neuro' language being used has little scientific basis.

But that does not mean all discussion of the role of neuroscience in education should be dismissed as useless "neurobabble". In fact educational neuroscience is now a recognised scientific discipline which is being studied in some of the world's leading universities including Stanford, Columbia and Vanderbilt in the USA and Cambridge University in the UK.

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Topics: Brain Science, Learning Capacity, Educational Neuroscience, For Principals

How You Can Spot Weak Cognitive Skills in Your Classroom

Posted by Peter Barnes on March 22, 2017 at 3:31 PM

Peter Barnes

What’s happening in your students’ brains when they can’t follow your classroom instructions? What if a student doesn’t want to answer your question? And why do some students struggle to tell a story?

These are all signs that a student may have a weakness in one or more key cognitive skills. Skills essential for learning.

As well as language skills, we all need four key thinking skills for effective learning. They are: memory, attention, processing, and sequencing.

Here are some behaviours you might notice if your students have a weakness in these skills:

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Topics: Learning Difficulties, Fast ForWord, Educational Neuroscience

250 Research Studies Published on Fast ForWord & Reading Assistant

Posted by Peter Barnes on February 28, 2017 at 3:41 PM

Peter Barnes

How do you usually make decisions when you are thinking about an important purchase such as a car or a large household item like a refrigerator or washing machine?

Do you base your decisions on:

  1. How you feel (“I really like it”)?
  2. What others say about it?
  3. Comparisons of facts and data (fuel consumption, energy efficiency, reports by independent consumer organisations)?
  4. A combination of all of these.

Decisions about educational software

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Topics: English Language Learners, Fast ForWord, Educational Neuroscience, For Principals

3 Famous Neuroscientists: How Brain Plasticity Helps Human Potential

Posted by Peter Barnes on September 26, 2016 at 1:50 PM

Peter Barnes

“The science of neuroplasticity is slowly but surely transforming how we think about ourselves and our brains, and how we can build a stronger brain that provides us with a better life,” said Dr Michael Merzenich.

He was speaking in a roundtable discussion with Professors Eve Marder and Carla Shatz following the trio’s receipt of the $1million 2016 Kavli Prize in Neuroscience.

The three scientists discussed how their work disrupted a central dogma of neuroscience and how it offers the promise of plasticity-based treatments for people who are struggling to learn, have brain damage or who have brains at risk of mental illness or dementia.

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Topics: Brain Science, Fast ForWord, Educational Neuroscience

What is Neuroplasticity & How Does It Impact Education?  (Infographic)

Posted by Peter Barnes on September 5, 2016 at 3:05 PM

Peter Barnes

“Everything having to do with human training and education has to be re-examined in light of neuroplasticity". (Norman Doidge, author of "The Brain That Changes Itself”).

What is neuroplasticity? It is the understanding that experiences are able to change our brains, and that our brain’s structure and capacity are not fixed. The eminent neuroscientist, Dr Michael Merzenich, widely known as “the father of neuroplasticity”, recently shared the $1million Kavli Prize for his contribution to this understanding.

Neuroplasticity offers the prospect of new ways to improve learning and education, physical rehabilitation, mental illnesses and addiction.

An excellent infographic explaining neuroplasticity has been produced by Alta Mira, a San Francisco rehabilitation and recovery centre.  

 The infographic includes this comment about education:

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Topics: Educational Neuroscience, For Principals

5 World Firsts: Fast ForWord Brain Training & Reading Programs

Posted by Peter Barnes on August 4, 2016 at 3:23 PM

Peter Barnes

By the start of 1996, four neuroscientists had spent 25 years researching both how our brains learn and also ways to help people with dyslexia, autism and specific language impairment.

The scientists were Dr Michael Merzenich - now known as “The father of neuroplasticity”, Dr Paula Tallal, Dr Bill Jenkins and Dr Steve Miller. They co-founded the Scientific Learning Corporation (SLC) and Fast ForWord is the registered trade name of the platform SLC built to translate basic neuroplasticity-based training research into clinical and educational products.

In doing this they established 5 “world firsts”:

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Topics: Fast ForWord, Educational Neuroscience

Educational Neuroscience Helps Students: Special Needs to Mainstream

Posted by Peter Barnes on May 23, 2016 at 2:04 PM

Peter Barnes

Peter Carabi, vice president of Global Business Development for Scientific Learning has been watching how educational neuroscience is changing learning for students around the world.

He sees how this relativey new brain science, which is the foundation for the Fast ForWord brain training, language and reading programs, opens new opportunities for students regardless of their country or ability.

Peter recorded an interview with the Learning Capacity Podcast in which he discussed English language learning and educational neuroscience.

This blog is a transcript of his comments about the latter.

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Topics: Fast ForWord, Learning Capacity, Educational Neuroscience

Peter Carabi: English Language Learning with Fast ForWord

Posted by Peter Barnes on May 23, 2016 at 2:03 PM

Peter Barnes

Language and reading are universal skills required by everyone across the world. And with English being such a dominant language, there are an increasing number of people looking for ways to improve their English literacy.

Peter Carabi, vice president of Global Business Development for Scientific Learning is in the privileged position of witnessing the effects of the Fast ForWord programs as they help people around the world with their language skills. He sees how this opens new opportunities for them and often completely changes the trajectory of young peoples’ lives.

The programs are based on neuroscience, and the concept that the brain is not fixed, but plastic, and has the capability to change itself. Peter describes it as one of the things that can give us all hope.

Colin Klupiec caught up with Peter at the biannual LearnFast summit in January 2016, on a sunny day in Manly on Sydney Harbour and recorded an interview for the Learning Capacity Podcast. Peter discussed English language learning and educational neuroscience.

Listen to the podcast.

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Topics: English Language Learners, Brain Science, Fast ForWord, Podcasts, Educational Neuroscience

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