Three teachers at the Mölstad School in Mönsterås, Sweden – Mats Grönqvist, Anette Sjökvist and Eva Nilsson – were looking for a way to help students who were having difficulty listening, understanding instructions and concentrating on their work. They turned to Cogmed Working Memory Training, an evidence-based, computerized program designed by leading neuroscientists to improve attention by effectively increasing working-memory capacity over a five-week training period. By training a tightly defined cognitive function with the Cogmed program, students create a cascading effect of improvements. They are better able to pay attention, resist distractions, self-manage and learn.
When introducing the Cogmed program, the Mölstad School teachers met with the students and parents to identify a goal for the training, which was tailored to each student’s age and grade level. The parents understood that when the students completed the five training sessions, a reward was in order. To notify the parents when the students reached that milestone, their teacher sent a text message. Nilsson said the reward could be as simple as a family movie night or the chance to choose a favorite dish for dinner – any kind of celebration.
Sjökvist explained that the reward is important because the training is challenging. The exercises are designed so that students have to work consistently at their maximum ability. However, the program’s environment – of colorful graphics and fun exercises – is appealing and engaging to students. As coaches, the teachers reinforce and encourage the children as they work through the Cogmed program.
When the teachers began this initiative, the Mölstad School had an individual license to use the program, but, based on their success, the license was expanded to include all schools in the municipality.
The trio agreed on the success of Cogmed Working Memory Training for their students: “We see big differences in the children. For some, the results come quickly, and for others, it takes a little longer. But everyone is moving forward and getting better at concentrating in school.”