Arrowsmith recently released a report describing the many improved outcomes noted in 18 studies run over the last 12 years. This research is overwhelmingly positive and is a compilation of research summaries that finally present data to express the wonderful learning improvements that can be gained for our students in the Arrowsmith program. These gains are experienced in our classrooms and are seen by the students themselves, their parents and Kru Jessica and Kru Joel on a daily basis here at UWCT.
Research is an organized and systematic method of exploring questions. It is defined in a number of different ways with a general agreement that it is a process of investigation that follows certain steps in order to further knowledge in an area.
Research in the field of neuroscience led to the formulation of a series of questions posed by Barbara
Arrowsmith Young, which Arrowsmith Program has been investigating since 1977.
These initial questions were based on 2 lines of research.
The first: A. R. Luria’s work in Russia investigating the identification of the function of different regions of the
brain and ‘functional systems’ (Luria’s term) which are now called neural networks.
The second: Mark Rosenzweig’s work at Berkley looking at stimulation leading to neurophysiological changes with resultant improvement in learning (the brains of rats exposed to an enriched and stimulating environment changed physiologically and these animals were able to learn mazes more quickly). This is neuroplasticity – stimulation leading to brain change with resultant learning and behaviour changes.
The questions posed by Barbara Arrowsmith Young: If one could understand the nature of a cognitive function, through studying Luria’s work, could one create a task that targets and works that function – what Rosenzweig called ‘targeted differential stimulation’? Would working on that task repetitively with a graduated increase in complexity, accuracy and speed of performance lead to neuroplastic change in the brain? Would these changes in the brain lead to changes in learning processes?
Arrowsmith Young was highly motivated to investigate these questions as she was seeking a solution to her significant learning difficulties – and so three exercises were born out of her specific need – Symbol Relations, Spatial Reasoning and Kinesthetic Perception. She was the first Arrowsmith student.
The summary of the research journey that follows answers these questions posed over 40 years ago. The
research is categorized as follows:
A. Academic Outcomes
B. Cognitive Outcomes
C. Social, Emotional and Behavioural Outcomes
D. Brain Imaging Outcomes