Based on research, here are 3 key things to look for when evaluating the programs and the research behind them.
- Transfer effects
- Control group
1. Transfer effects. Practicing something will naturally make you better at it. This is known as a “practice effect”. But does the research show that the benefits of a training program transfer to classroom activities?
2. Control Group. A control group offers a comparison to make sure that the training program is not just working because the student is doing something different. An Active Control is ideal - these are students who are doing something different from the training program (such as reading or playing a different computer game), rather than a group who is not doing anything.
3. Maintenance. How long do the results last? Not all research studies include a follow-up so you may not know how long the benefits will last.
In my research, I looked at the transfer effects of Working Memory training.
Students with learning difficulties were randomly assigned to one of two groups. Half of the students trained with Jungle Memory (Training group), while the other half received extra tutoring (Active Control).
BEFORE TRAINING: I measured their working memory, IQ, and grades. Students in the Training and Active Control were at the same level. This is important because it means that any improvements the student makes is the result of the training and not because they started at different levels.
AFTER TRAINING: The Training group showed great improvements in IQ, working memory, and most importantly, their grades. The increase in their grades was the equivalent of a C to a B, and a B to an A in just 8 weeks!
The Active Control, who did not do the training, did not show improvements.
I also worked with Dyslexia Scotland to find out whether Jungle Memory could improve school performance in students with dyslexia.
Students were allocated into one of three groups:
- Nonactive Control
- Active Control (trained 1x a week)
- Training Group (trained 4x a week)
BEFORE TRAINING: All three groups were given tests of working memory, IQ, and language.
AFTER TRAINING: Students in the Training Group improved their working memory scores by 5x more than those who only trained once a week.
MAINTENANCE: The most exciting thing is that all these improvements lasted 8 months after completing the training.