New teaching tool is making a difference

November 26, 2007

Grade three teacher Kim Patriquin says she faces a struggle each day in her Hobbema classroom, as many of her students don't spend much time on school work at home. Patriquin says her students lack the reading, memory and organizational skills they should have by grade three. But a new program, developed at the University of Alberta, is making big changes.

U of A researchers developed a program called COGENT. It consists of 5 modules, each designed to activate different aspects of cognition, language and literacy, understanding relationships between words, sentences and stories and manipulating sounds and letters.

Patriquin says there are programs similar to COGENT, but they're dated and mainly focus on reading - COGENT can be used for much more including memory, sequencing and math.

Researchers did a study in Patriquin's classroom. They say they chose to conduct the study with First Nations children because these children are often diagnosed with reading problems at a higher rate than the national average. The students in Patriquin's class were all diagnosed as very poor readers. COGENT was taught for 35 minutes a day, three times a week, for one year. At the end of the program 73% of the students improved their reading and were no longer classified as very poor readers.

COGENT was designed to be used for children at all levels, kindergarten to grade 3 and workshops are now being offered to school teachers, psychologists and speech-language pathologists. It is also being researched in India, Spain, China and Japan.
The research has been published in the Journal of Learning Disabilities.

University of Alberta

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