Sea Crest Partners with UCSF to Help Catalyze Education Innovation

Innovative educators seek new answers to an age-old question: “What are the best practices to improve learning?” An important research study in the Bay Area is focusing on specific methods in order to help learners everywhere.

Beginning in January 2016, Sea Crest served as the first K-8 school to partake in this progressive study running out of the Educational Neuroscience program at the Mission Bay UCSF Center for Integrative Neurosciences. The research study is led by Dr. Melina Uncapher, whose work aims to bolster student self-efficacy through evidence-based learning practices.

Students who opted into the study piloted an iPad-based “brain game” called Adaptive Cognitive Evaluation (ACE) in order to assess baseline executive function such as working memory, attention, and inhibitory responses.

Sea Crest students are currently piloting EVO, a “prescriptive video game” and cognitive intervention developed by Akili in collaboration with the Gazzaley Research Group at UCSF. Students are looking forward to playing more of ACE in the fall, in addition to trying out the Brain-Body-Trainer (BBT), a synergistic cognitive and physical training intervention currently in development at the Gazzaley Neuroscape Lab.

Through this active research, UCSF cognitive neuroscientists will be able to examine academic achievement across different grade levels. They are assessing individual student achievement and how it corresponds with executive functioning skills. This work will inform researchers about the process underlying student learning, providing us with a more nuanced understanding of how students’ math and reading skills map over to executive functioning.

In partnership with organizations such as UCSF, Sea Crest is working to help catalyze education innovation.

Learning and the Brain

Sea Crest’s strengthened Student Success process has increased our school’s focus on neuroscience. Each day, we are learning more about how memory, attention, and perception change over the course of a child’s development and how we might adjust our approach in order to maximize learning.

One example is “Learning and the Brain,” our new weekly core course for Sixth Grade students. Taught by Student Support Coordinator Laurie Schoeffler, the goal of this class is to help Sixth Graders better understand the way their minds work so that they can gain metacognitive abilities.

“I am passionate about the intersection of neuroscience and education,” said Ms. Schoeffler, who has been a member of the Learning and the Brain Society for ten years. “I am most interested in understanding how mindset, executive function, and social-emotional development are integral to the learning process. Understanding our children as the unique beings they are brings the joy into each day for me! Two books top my recommended reading list: Raising a Self-Disciplined Child by Brooks & Goldstein and Brain Rules by John Medina.”

Another example of our work with learning and the brain is our partnership with Dr. Melina Uncapher and Dr. Adam Gazzaley, experts in the field of applied neuroscience. Current Third, Fifth, and Seventh Grade students are piloting an innovative study for a cognitive neuroscience research lab at UCSF. With parents’ permission, students are undergoing interactive assessments and using brain/body trainers in small groups. Our school is helping to build the foundation for a large longitudinal study that could change the way educators approach neuroscience.

Watch Dr. Gazzaley’s TED Talk:


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