What is Cognitive Acceleration Programmes?

Cognitive acceleration programmes are intervention approaches which seek to enhance learning through the use of innovative methods centring on thinking skills.

Knowledge bank

Cognitive acceleration programmes first came to the attention of schools thanks to the work of a team of researchers at King’s College, London during the 1980s. Through academically rigorous trials with learners, the team have helped to cement the approach as one of the most respected and well-researched ways of enhancing learning so far documented.

The initial focus for the work was in science and was called Cognitive Acceleration Through Science Education (CASE). The project was subsequently developed to encompass other curriculum areas – maths (CAME), technology (CATE) and geography (CAGE).

The team leading the work in science devised a series of teaching interventions called ‘Thinking Science’ which were taught to a group of learners in years 7 and 8 instead of the standard science curriculum.

The teaching programme challenged children’s previous concepts in science and presented them with problems they were unable to solve using current knowledge.

The CASE programme resulted in significant improvements in learners’ science understanding compared to the control group who were taught the standard curriculum, together with greater gains in reasoning ability. Their GCSE results in science were higher than a control group who did not take part in CASE, and also amazingly in maths and English.

Ask yourself

  • To what extent have cognitive acceleration programmes been embraced by your school?
  • What are the key messages of the approach for your classroom?
  • How do cognitive acceleration programmes link with other work taking place in your classroom or school?

To do list

  • Find out more about the cognitive acceleration programmes currently on offer and what is relevant to your own teaching.
  • Observe some cognitive acceleration programmes in action in a neighbouring school.
  • Study in more detail some of the excellent publications available on cognitive acceleration programmes.

Author: Shawn

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