by Guest Blogger Donna Wilson
It’s an exciting time for mind, brain, and education research, with
psychologists and neuroscientists regularly making discoveries that have
revolutionized our understanding about people learn.
instance, we now know that academic achievement is greatly influenced
by students’ ability to apply thought processes in a systematic way. We
use the term metacognition to describe this ability, with the strategies that come into play known as cognitive assets. Cognitive psychologists and neuroscientists may use the term executive functions or skills to describe similar functions.
example, educators, psychologists and neuroscientists may all speak of
the importance of capacities such as working memory, selective
attention, and metacognition with regard to learning. All three groups
of professionals are talking about skills that are linked to the brain’s
prefrontal region, as well as other areas of the brain depending upon
the specific skill. Ongoing research continues to increase our
understanding about related structures and functions.
students arrive at school with most of their cognitive assets (or
executive functions) in place. They have the capacity to benefit from
standard teaching practice if they are motivated to do so. Other
students do not arrive with all these assets in place. They may start
school motivated, but they can quickly lose ground as their reading,
writing, and computing skills fail to develop at the prescribed rate.
One response is to require them to repeat the grade, which is both financially costly and largely ineffective, In our book, Thinking for Results: Strategies for Increasing Student Achievement by As Much as 30 Percent,
we cite studies that show that students who are held back do not gain
the skills they need to perform at grade level and that grade retention
is highly correlated to dropping out of school.
proactive and effective solution is to cultivate the cognitive assets
students need to do well in school and in life so that they can become
more positive, healthy, and productive citizens. Our approach focuses on
cultivating cognitive assets in students, allowing teachers to
effectively move toward the mission that all students will succeed in
school and in life.
A key component of this approach is
what sets out the process of purposeful cognition by gathering
information, processing information, and applying information to achieve
desired results. This approach supports academic achievement,
encourages a safe school environment, and can be the framework for a
lifetime of successful thinking.