Online Working Memory Training
Research has demonstrated that working memory is the largest component of IQ or “fluid intelligence.” Until recently, there was no accurate way to measure working memory, so the effectiveness of online working memory training or other interventions could not be established.
In 2009 a group of researchers overcame this boundary. They developed a test that accurately measures working memory. They also developed a system to improve it. The working memory training system worked so well in the lab that a version of it is now being deployed in schools through the BrainX Digital Tutoring System. Schools are encouraged to use the system to assess struggling learners, especially students with ADHD or ADD. If the assessment shows that the student's poor academic achievement is the result of a low working memory capacity, then the online Working Memory Training system can be employed to help the student.
The BrainX Working Memory Test and Training
Finding the Causes for Underperformance
The most difficult part of improving student performance is determining the likely cause(s) behind underperformance. Learning disorders, lack of motivation, low self-efficacy, core knowledge gaps and working memory capacity are possible causes. BrainX offers a full range of diagnostics that now include a working memory assessment. The assessments enable schools to accurately diagnose the exact issues responsible for an individual student’s underperformance. They go further to create a personal prescription of effective interventions.
- If the issues relate to deficient self-efficacy—the belief in one’s ability to learn or take tests—the BrainX system can be employed to benchmark each student’s performance over time and prove to students that they can learn and improve their intelligence. When students believe they can improve their own intelligence through hard work, they tend to work longer and harder. Better grades result.
- If the problem underlying underperformance is critical knowledge gaps, the BrainX system will identify and create lessons to fill each gap. Then BrainX delivers instruction and reinforcement using a strategy focused on moving each student up to grade level in the least amount of time.
- If the cause is more likely low working memory capacity, this must be addressed before other strategies. Low capacity is a fundamental cause of poor academic performance. Now BrainX can offer your students a working memory intervention that is still in the clinical trial stage.
Reducing or Removing Causes for Underperformance
If working memory has been identified as an issue, students engage in a personal training program for working memory. The program is delivered in an online game environment. Unlike going to the gym to lift physical weights (often tedious and boring!) students actually enjoy going to their online “working memory gym” to work out and strengthen their working memory. In fact, teachers often join them. The system uses a BrainX Personal Digital Tutor who constantly adapts the system to each student’s ability. Each student is always working in a zone that is challenging yet attainable.
Although the working memory test and training is effective on its own, students can amplify their results by using it with the BrainX Expert Learner Program to learn study skills that will boost their scores and grades to new levels by building study habits and using learning strategies. High school students can pair this with the high school English and math coursework offered by BrainX to fill knowledge gaps as far back as their 3rd grade curriculum, giving them the knowledge, skills and abilities they need to compete in core subjects.