Student Outcomes > Comments by Professionals
A Teacher’s Observations of A Student’s Cognitive Change
As a high school special education teacher, I have had the opportunity to work with the following student over the past two years in the area of English. We met on a daily basis for 40 minutes of classroom instruction. In the second year of working with Marisa, she began several of the Arrowsmith cognitive exercises.These are the changes I noted.
This student worked on the cognitive program to improve her ability to think and problem solve and stay focused and on task. Some of the English assignments require thinking skills in order to write creatively. Last year and the beginning of this year were difficult for Marisa because she couldn't focus in on the topic. Her writing was often unrelated to the topic. However, after several months of working on the Arrowsmith cognitive exercise related to improving executive functioning, Marisa began to show improvement. She now starts on task and keeps the proper focus. Marisa can remain on target for a longer time. The point is, Marisa's written work doesn't "wander" or appear obscure as it did prior to the cognitive work. Her ideas are better organized and more coherent with less rambling and irrelevancies. She also became more able to learn from her mistakes and start to be self-corrective and more thought goes into her compositions and essays.
Behaviorally, Marisa has also demonstrated growth. She worked on the program for non-verbal thinking and social reasoning. Prior to working on this program Marisa had been inappropriate much of the time- speaking loudly, making exaggerated body gestures, flailing her arms and "bouncing about" as she spoke to either staff or students. She was rarely accurate in her interpretation of social situations. Oftentimes when being spoken to, Marisa wasn't attending to the conversation and at times interrupting impulsively about something totally unrelated to the statements being made by others. Several months into the program my co-teacher and I noted that Marisa began demonstrating better listening skills through attentiveness and making more eye contact when being spoken to. She has become much more accurate in interpreting social situations and reading social cues. It should be noted that these behaviors are in reference to informal time rather than class teaching time. Marisa now demonstrates the ability to restrain herself and interact in a "calmer" manner and her responses are appropriate to the social situation.
Self image and good feelings of self are as much a matter to consider when describing the progress I've noted. Marisa is very aware of and is very pleased with her progress. She is open to this help and proud of her accomplishments. I feel the program individualized for her by Arrowsmith has been extremely positive and helpful and I certainly feel it would be advantageous for other people who experience roadblocks to learning and socialization skills.
Marisa has demonstrated dramatic improvements in handwriting. Whereas her written work was difficult to read and the uniformity of the letters were terribly inconsistent and the spacing was poor, she now writes legibly! Her ability to organize and space written work on a page has improved; sentence structure has improved; there are fewer careless spelling errors in her written work, e.g., dropping off the ends of her words such as writing "cover" when she meant "covered"; and productivity has increased.
The following sample is of the change in this student’s handwriting. The first sample is of handwriting prior to this student working on the cognitive exercise for the motor symbol sequencing problem and the second sample is during treatment. This student had a motor symbol sequencing dysfunction which resulted in the initial handwriting difficulties. No practice was given in handwriting. The handwriting changed as a result of improved motor symbol sequencing functioning due to the specific Arrowsmith Program cognitive exercises.