Éadaoin Slattery – Keeping Score! The development of a school-based attention training programme

Éadaoin Slattery is a PhD student at the University of Limerick. She is interested in the measurement and enhancement of cognition, with a particular emphasis on sustained attention, working memory and their interrelations. Her PhD research focuses on the development and evaluation of “Keeping Score!”, a novel, school-based attention training programme designed to improve sustained attention and working memory in children with attentional difficulties.

In her talk for the Centre for Educational Neuroscience, she first highlighted the relationship between cognitive assessments of sustained attention among primary school students, and teachers’ and parents’ reports of inattentive behaviour in everyday life – a first step in bridging the gap between lab-based research and school practice. Second, she reported the strong associations between: a) verbal IQ and working memory (e.g. the capacity to keep multiple pieces of information in mind), and b) word reading and reading comprehension. Finally, she presented an intervention, Keeping Score! aiming to improve children’s sustained attention and/or working memory. The intervention consisted in children playing table tennis, while keeping track of the scores. Although the programme seemed promising in terms of the ease to implement it in school settings, it did not yield significant improvements in working memory and sustained attention. Together with the attendees, Éadaoin discussed the methodological and practical challenges she faced (e.g. difficulty to have big sample sizes, to dissociate motor skills and attentional skills in the training programme). A lot of food for thoughts for fellow EdNeuro researchers!

You can follow Éadaoin on Twitter @eadaoinslattery

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