IS BRAINWISE AN EVIDENCE-BASED PROGRAM?
Yes. In fact, more than ten years of classroom experiences, ongoing research, independent testing, and other independent evaluation and analysis have validated the program's effectiveness and reinforced its approach.
According to one study, BrainWise students are less prone to impulsive and violent behavior; have a more positive self-image and greater peer acceptance; and have gained many of the necessary social skills to help them make better decisions in every aspect of their lives. Another study showed improvement in executive brain function and/or impulsivity in 82% of students tested.
As an ongoing part of its program, BrainWise continues to evaluate the effectiveness of its approach. Two educational psychology professors from the University of Northern Colorado with expertise in executive brain functions and decision making have collaborated with BrainWise in developing evaluation instruments. For future evaluations, BrainWise also plans to include the use of an online, patented program called Confidence Based Learning that will assess students’ knowledge of critical thinking skills, as well as their confidence in that knowledge so that teachers can address specific learning needs.
In 2000, an independent evaluation of BrainWise was conducted by OMNI Research and Training, a national firm specializing in the independent assessment of social programs. Its study of the program employed both pre and post test standardized measures, focus groups and secondary analysis of data to evaluate 7th graders in both a control and a comparison school. Study participants were students considered to be 'at risk'. When outcomes at the two schools were compared, BrainWise students showed statistically significant
positive outcomes. The study found that BrainWise students are less prone to impulsive and
violent behavior; have a more positive self-image and
greater peer acceptance; and have gained many of the social
skills to help them make better decisions and to handle
themselves in every aspect of their lives. The attributes and skills included
improving feelings of loneliness, sadness and being upset;
decreasing aggressive actions such as hitting, shoving,
pushing and yelling; and improving the ability to form
and maintain friendships.
The study also found that because of the program, BrainWise students demonstrated an increased awareness of and use of important social skills. Those skills included:
- Information gathering and communication
- Conflict de-escalation and negotiation
- Assertiveness and honesty
- Obtaining of outside help
- Understanding of consequences
- Avoidance of lying, fighting and disrespecting others.
Also, during the 2004-2005 school year, another
study of BrainWise measured its impact on "executive
function" in children - a cluster of activities that
involve the ability to adopt and maintain problem solving
abilities by inhibiting impulse, forming goals and strategic
plans to reach them. This study was conducted at five different school sites. Pre and post-tests were administered to students using the Tower of London-R instrument (to test executive function) and the Stroop test (to test impulsivity). The findings showed that 82% of the BrainWIse students demonstrated improved performance on at least one of the measures and 47% of them demonstrated improvement on both the TOL-R and the Stroop.
These findings were presented at
the June 2005 Adolescent Brain Conference held at the
Annenberg School of Public Policy at the University of
Pennsylvania and published in Adolescent Psychopathology and the Developing Brain: Integrating Brain and Prevention Science 2007 by Oxford University Press.The book contains papers presented at a 2005 conference held at the University of Pennsylvania that presented cutting-edge programs and research on the brain.
Conference participants were selected because their work applied research findings that won Dr. Eric Kandel the 2000 Nobel Prize in Medicine. Dr. Kandel proved the brain's neuroplasticity or its ability to form neural connections when it learned something new--the foundation upon which BrainWise is based.
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