Category Archives: > Research

+ Generating Ideas “Outside the Box”

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Great article in the Times this morning on creativity:  Suntae Kim, Evan Polman and Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks wanted to know if there is any psychological truth to metaphors such as “think outside the box,” and “on the one hand; on the other hand…”

Researchers had already found that someone holding a warm cup of coffee tends to perceive a stranger as having a “warmer” personality.  Other studies have shown that if a person is holding something heavy, they tend to view things as more serious and important… more “weighty.”

But the authors asked 102 undergraduates at NYU to complete a task designed to measure innovative thinking.

The type of task was to (for example) generate a word (“tape”) that related to three clue words: “measure,” “worm,” and “video.”

Some students were randomly assigned to do this while sitting inside a 125-cubic-foot box that we made of plastic pipe and cardboard.  The rest got to sit and think outside (and next to) the box.

…We found that those thinking outside the box were significantly more creative: compared with those thinking inside the box, they came up with over  20 percent more creative solutions.

 In another study students were asked to think of original used for particular objects made of Lego blocks; but they had to do it while walking along a fixed rectangular path indicated by duct tape on the floor — marking out an area of about 48 square feet.  Other students were allowed to walk as freely as they wished.

They found striking differences.  Those who walked freely  were better at generating creative uses for the objects — coming up with over 25 percent more original ideas.

Such creativity was assessed in terms of fluency (the number of ideas generated) flexibility (the number of unique categories that described the generated ideas), and originality (as judged by independent raters).

On the one hand…

The researchers found that something similar happens when thinking about a problem “on one hand and then on the other.”

 Forty undergraduates from the University of Michigan were asked to lift and hold a hand outstretched (“as you might when addressing an audience from a stage”) while generating novel uses for a new university complex.

Some were asked to lift just one hand.  others were asked to switch between hands.

Among students who were allowed to switch hands (literally on the one hand, on the other hand) they found a nearly 50 percent increase in the number of uses generated.

The authors feel they are close to finding some sources of creativity.  

By showing that bodily experiences can help create new knowledge, our results further undermine the strict separation between mind and body — another box that has confined our thinking for a long time.

Additionally, the authors say, even though researchers are only starting to grasp how catch-phrases shape how people think, it may now be possible to prescribe some novel suggestions to enhance creativity.  For instance, perhaps if we’re performing a job that requires some “outside the box” thinking — it may be literally a good idea to avoid working in cubicles.

Suntae Kim is a doctoral candidate and Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks is an associate professor, both in management and organizations, at the University of Michigan.  Evan Polman is visiting assistant professor of management and organizations at NYU.

For the entire article, visit,%20Evan%20Polman&st=Search

Orton-Gillingham tutoring in Columbus OH:  Adrienne Edwards 614-579-6021 or email

+ Council for Learning Disabilities Call For Proposals: Due March 30

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The 34th International Conference on Learning Disabilities, to be held in Texas in October, is calling for proposals. 

The theme of the CLD conference is “Learning Disabilities: Looking Back and Looking Forward — Using What We Know to Create a Blueprint for the Future.”


  • Panel — Topics should be pertinent to LD and include three or more panelists; and be of use to researchers, policy makers, teacher educators, and educators.  Content should be readily applicable to their professional roles.
  • Cracker-barrel — Sessions leaders should introduce key issues, provide ample opportunities for group interaction, facilitating small-group discussion.  Controversy is okay.
  • Poster — Content should be evidence-based; might include (for example) a synopsis of an intervention study, progress monitoring tools, practices relating to pre-service training , meta-analysis/synthesis of the literature, examination of technical applications.


  • Intervention — Sessions should offer information that helps  implement practices and approaches directly, provide their  documentation as evidence-based, summarize the theory and underpinnings, include relevant data.  
  • Policy — These sessions address system-level issues, systems change, legislative/legal issues, or policy development.  Should delineate multiple perspectives, discuss how a policy impacts individuals, families and advocates.  Proposals should include an explanation of the policy, give a brief background, explain the how and why of its effects on LD people and the professionals who serve them.
  • Teacher Preparation — These sessions should describe evidence-based practices for preparing teachers, advocates and  families.  Proposals should include a description of the  practice and examples of its use in a university/clinic setting, as well as ways to measure effectiveness.
  • Research Methodology — Of particular interest: methodologies that advance the participants’ understanding of how to conduct evidence-providing research on interventions; also how to read research-based articles, follow analyses, design studies and write them up.  Proposals should describe the methodology strategies and how session participants can apply the content for themselves.

For more information and instructions for submitting a proposal, visit

Orton-Gillingham tutoring in Columbus OH:  Adrienne Edwards  614-579-6021 or email

+ Abnormal Auditory Processing Underlies Dyslexia

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From Science Daily, a report indicating that people with dyslexia may be impacted by an abnormality in auditory processing.

Experts have long known that the inability to accurately decode and identify what they read is a result of speech processing problems.  But the basis of that disruption and how it interferes with reading comprehension had not been fully explored.

But now, new reasearch published in the December issue of the journal Neuron suggests that a specific abnormality in the processing of auditory signals accounts for the main symptoms of dyslexia.

Senior study authors are Dr. Anne-Lise Giraud and Frank Ramus of the Ecole Normale Superieure in Paris, France.

According to Giraud, everyone has been in agreement that for a majority of dyslexic children, the main cause is related to a deficit in the processing of speech sounds.  And also well established is that  there are three main symptoms of this deficit:

  • difficulty paying attention to individual speech sounds,
  • a limited ability to repeat a list of pseudo-words or numbers,
  • and a slow performance when asked to name a series of pictures, colors, or numbers as quickly as possible. 

However, the underlying basis of these symptoms had not been elucidated.

Giraud and her colleagues examined whether an abnormality in the early steps of auditory processing in the brain, called “sampling,” is linked with dyslexia.  They focused on the idea that an anomaly in the initial processing of phonemes — the smallest units of sounds that can be used to make a word — might have a direct impact on the processing of speech.

What they found is that typical brain processing of auditory rhythms associated with phonemes was disrupted in the left auditory cortex of dyslexics.  This deficit correlated with measures of speech sound processing.

Further, they found that dyslexics exhibited an enhanced response to high-frequency rhythms that indirectly interfered with verbal memory.

It is possible that this “oversampling” might result in a distortion of the representation of speech sounds.

Girard says

Our results suggest that the left auditory cortex of dyslexic people may be less responsive to modulation at very specific frequencies, which is potentially detrimental to their verbal short-term memory abilities.  Taken together, our data suggest that the auditory cortex of dyslexic individuals is less fine-tuned to the specific needs of speech processing.

Visit the Science Daily article, which is aggregated and has no byline, to locate citations:

Orton-Gillingham tutoring in Columbus OH:  Adrienne Edwards 614-579-6021 or email

+ NAEP: Schools on Military Bases Surpass Public Schools

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In an article by Michael Winerip in the NY Times, we learn that the results of the 2011 federal testing program known as NAEP suggest  that — once again — schools on the nation’s military bases have outperformed public schools in both reading and math.   

NAEP is the National Assessment of Educational Progress; the tests were given to the nation’s fourth and eighth graders.

At the military base schools, 39 percent of fourth graders were scored as proficient in reading, compared with 32 percent of all public school students. 

Even more impressive, the achievement gap between black and white students continue to be much smaller at military base schools and is shrinking faster than at public schools.

While the fashion has been for American educators to head to Helsinki in order to learn their pedagogical methods, Winerip thinks it might be more instructive to take a motel room in Jacksonville N.C. and check out how classes at Camp Lejeune Marine base are implemented.

Principal Leigh Anne Kapiko at Tarawa Terrace Elementary, says military base schools do no test preparation.  They don’t even have test prep materials.

Standardized tests are used as originally intended in these schools: to identify a child’s academic weaknesses and assess the effectiveness of the curriculum.

Kapiko believes that military base schools are more nurturing than public schools.  “We don’t have to be so regimented, since we’re not worried about a child’s ability to bubble on a test.”

In public schools, the federal government can dictate to principals how to run their schools in terms of formal observations of teachers.  The government will also base half of those teachers’ ratings on their students’ test scores.

But Kapiko has discretion over how to evaluate her teachers. 

“We don’t micromanage,”says Marilee Fitzgerald, director of the Department of Defense Education Activity, the agency that supervises the military base schools and their 87,000 students.  “Individual schools decide what to focus on.”

In addition, studies suggest that factors other than what happens in the schoolroom may play a role in the success of military base schools.  Military parents don’t have to worry about securing health care coverage for their children.  All families have adequate housing.  And at least one parent in the family has a job.

For Winerip’s entire article visit

Orton-Gillingham tutoring in Columbus OH: Adrienne Edwards  614-579-6021 or email

+ Participate in Biology of Language Study

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Biology Of Language Study

Nationwide Children’s Hospital and the Ohio State Universityare working together on the Biology of Language Study that is looking at the way genes affect language skills.

They are seeking families where at least one family member shows a history of language or reading problems.
  • The study will not cost you anything.
  • You will receive a $20 gift card for your completion of the enrollment interview and another for your child’s completion of the eligibility testing.
  • If your family is eligible for further assessment, each family member asked to complete testing will be paid $100 at the end of participation.
  • No travel time is necessary.
  • All information can be taken over the phone.
For more information about the study or to inquire about enrollment, contact:
Drs. Chris Bartlett and Steve Petrill  Phone:1-800-678-6494
website information:
Orton-Gillingham tutoring in Columbus OH:  Adrienne Edwards 614-579-6021 or email

+ Math Disability: Problem Linking Quantities to Numbers

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From Science Daily, October 24,  a report that children who start elementary school with difficulty associating small exact quantities of items with the printed numerals that represent those quantities are more likely to develop a math-related learning disability.

A study supported by the National Institutes of Health suggests that the children in the study who appeared to have difficulty grasping the fundamental concept of exact numerical quantities — that the printed number 3 represents three dots on a page, for example — went on later to be diagnosed with math learning disability by fifth grade.

There were other factors correlated with a math learning disability as well. 

These children had difficulty recalling answers to single-digit addition problems.   They were distractible in class.  And they had difficulty understanding that more complex math problems can be broken down into smaller problems.

While the math learning disabled children did make limited progress in subsequent grades, by fifth grade they had not caught up to their typically achieving peers in the ability to recall number facts, or in their ease of adding sets of dots and numerals together. 

Math disabled students did catch up in other areas, researchers noted, such as the use of counting to solve problems.

The researchers do not know whether the factors they identified caused the children’s math learning disability or whether they were linked to other unidentified factors: the study was not designed to prove cause and effect.

Says Kathy Mann Koepke, PhD, of NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National  Insititute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), which funded the study

The search for factors underlying difficulty learning mathematics is extremely important.  Once we identify such factors, the hope is that we can modify them through appropriate teaching methods to help people who have difficulty learning and using math.

Math skills are important for higher education and for entry into many higher paying technical fields.  Math skills have many health implications.  For example, many American adults lack even the basic math skills necessary to estimate the appropriate number of calories in their diets or to calculate the time intervals at which to take their medicine.

Dr. Mann Koepke directs the NICHD’s Mathematics and Science Cognition and Learning Development and Disorders program.

The study was conducted by Mary K Hoard, PhD, Laura Nugent, Drew H Bailey and David C Geary, PhD, all of the University of Missouri, Columbia.  Their findings appear in the Journal of Educational Psychology.

Dr. Geary says

Our findings suggest that children who generally struggle with math — the low achievers — may have a poor sense of numbers, but they can narrow the achievement gap in part because most of them can memorize new math facts and, thus, learn some aspects of math as quickly as their typically achieving peers.

He adds that, in contrast to the simply low achievers, students with a math learning disability not only have a poor concept of numbers, but also have difficulty memorizing math facts.

Mann Koepke feels that clarifying the factors that contribute to a math learning disability may lead to the development of teaching methods that help students overcome difficulties with number concepts and skills.  It’s important to identify potential difficulties early, when chances for successfully overcoming them are greatest.


Other NICHD-funded investigators have also identified basic risk factors for math learning disability.

These researchers have shown that math skills are linked to the “approximate number system,” a person’s intuitive ability to estimate quantities or identify the approximate number in a set.

One study of grade school children showed that this ability is impaired in children with a math learning disability.

A related study showed that difficulty with estimating such quantities is apparent in children as young as 3, and is correlated with later poor math performance in school.  Researchers do not know if the ability to distinguish between small, exact quantities is related to the approximate number system.

For the complete story in Science Daily, visit, which is my source.

 Orton-Gillingham tutoring in Columbus OH: Adrienne Edwards 614-579-6021 or email

+ Computerized Reading Games: Report

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From Kathie Nunley’s Educator’s Newsletter:

Four and five-year olds can benefit from computerized reading games, but only when given individualized feedback and correction. A Dutch study had a large group of low SES children use a computerized tutoring program to play games designed to improve literacy skills.

Half the children received individualized feedback including oral corrections from the computer.

Those children’s code-related literacy skills increased as a result. The children who played the games without the individualized feedback did not have skill improvement. It’s also interesting to note that children with inhibitory control problems scored disproportionately low when working in a computer environment without personalized feedback.

Kegel, C. & Bus, A. (2011). “Online tutoring as a pivotal quality of web-based early literacy programs.” Journal of Educational Psychology, preview, n.p.s.

Find Dr. Nunley’s Newsletter at   You can subscribe.

tutoring in Columbus OH:  Adrienne Edwards  614-579-6021  or email