A fascinating article into this weekend’s New York Times magazine, explores the latest area of brian training, the idea of actually impact IQ, or as it is described in the article, fluid intelligence.
The article explores the various studies that have been done in this area. In almost all cases, using a variety of cognitive training exercises, were able to show gains that showed up in IQ testing. The outstanding issues appear to be more related to:
- Will the gains be lasting
- Do these gains carry-over into improved real world academic performance.
For sure, these are interesting times for brain training programs. Improved academic performance can come from changing either IQ or learning skills — it is the combination that defines academic outcomes.
Fast ForWord is a cognitive training program used by Gemm Learning, that works almost exclusively on the Learning Skills part of this equation, specifically the phonological awareness and working memory skills required for reading. Our students tend to have an auditory processing disorder or need help with dyslexia, reading fluency or comprehension. By improving processing, focus and working memory skills, our treatment makes language and reading easier and more natural.
Interestingly, Fast ForWord has also been part of long term studies, using an IQ test each year, and it has shown that students have made gains for the 3-4 years after doing the program. We have always attributed these gains to the fact that IQ tests require good reading and language skills, and that is where Fast ForWord excels. But it is possible that the working memory gains from Fast ForWord, so critical to IQ, really are impacting fluid intelligence.
Interestingly, the last line of the article comments on a 4th grader in class not doing his cognitive training exercises, and comments: “Just like physical exercise, cognitive exercises may prove to be up against something even more resistant to training than fluid intelligence: human nature.”
They are onto something there. It is why Fast ForWord is offered only with professional oversight to ensure student compliance, and it is the primary mission of Gemm Learning. We know that if students work on our program regularly they will see gains, often dramatic gains. Our role is to make sure they do it! And to date we have been successful — our students average 85-90% compliance, where good results require at least 60-65% compliance.