Signposting for steering minds

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ABOUT MIND.WORLD EDUCATION

Mind. World Education is a pioneer in education.

Schools train children’s minds to travel far. Our technology signposts children’s minds to steer.

 

The mind has long been thought of as an engine. Education has sought to improve the mind’s speed and power.

Our research has enabled us to understand, track and improve how the mind steers. We call this steering cognition.

Steering cognition was developed from quantitative research. It describes how the mind regulates its attention. Scientists sometimes call this executive function or metacognition. The data indicates that steering cognition enables children to learn, work and be well. Children with poor steering cognition are more likely to socially & emotionally crash, follow the herd or fail to learn as effectively.

We carry out large studies to show that steering cognition explains some of the conundrums facing education today.  Our data helps to explain

  • Why education is improving, but children’s mental health is declining.
  • Why graduate grades have been improving, but fewer employers say graduates are work-ready.
  • Why online knowledge is increasing, but online decision-making is becoming more biased.

 

“The road from childhood to adulthood is getting harder to navigate. Driving the mind faster may lead to more crashes. Signposting children’s minds to steer will equip them to travel both far and well in a digital age.”

 

 


 

Mind. World/Education was set up by  two founders to improve STEERING COGNITION in education.

It has  grown to a team of clinicians, scientists, teachers and technology developers who are developing pioneering approaches to improve education around the world.

 

 

SimonWalker

Dr Simon P. Walker, CEO

DProf, MTh, MA Oxon, BTh, MBPsS

Simon, the company’s CEO, is a cognitive scientist whose major work has involved pioneering the description of Steering Cognition, over the course of 17 years research from 1999.  He leads MIND.WORLD’S research programme into Steering Cognition.

He has written numerous books and papers including an influential trilogy on the effects of steering cognition biases in leadership. His undergraduate studies at Oxford University were in Biological Science. He also holds MTh and BTh degrees. His doctorate was awarded for his contribution to professional fields of leadership & education. He is an Honorary Fellow at Bristol Graduate School of Education and a qualified member of the British Psychological Society.

JoWalkerDr Jo Walker, CSO

DProf, BA, QTS, Prof Dip

Jo is CSO and the author AS Tracking and the Footprints curriculum. She left a 25 year OFSTED outstanding teaching and advisory career in the state sector to found MIND.WORLD Education in 2010 with Dr Simon Walker.

She was an academic deputy head in a large inner city state school and before that, an award-winning BESD advisor. She has worked as a consultant to many schools. She holds a BA in English, a Prof Dip in Executive Coaching. Her doctorate was awarded for her pioneering contribution, by her development of AS Tracking, to the professional field of adolescent self-regulation in education .

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What can AS Tracking do for your school?

pioneering-science

The pioneering science of AS Tracking

AS TRACKING IS A BREAKTHROUGH ADOLESCENT MENTAL HEALTH TOOL THAT DETECTS RISKS EARLIER BY MEASURING PUPILS’ STEERING COGNITION BIASES

 

 

Watch Dr Simon Walker, the cognitive scientist who first described STEERING COGNITION, explain how the pioneering science behind AS Tracking unlocked the way to detect hidden mental health risks.

 

 

DETECTING PUPIL WELLBEING RISKS EARLIER

Developed through two doctoral studies & 15,000 pupil trials over 16 years, AS Tracking detects pupils hidden risks which may be undetected even by teachers’ expert professional judgment, or by parent or pupil feedback.

A study of 2,518 secondary pupils in 2015 showed that AS Tracking was accurate in detecting over 82% of pupils at risk of developing self-harm, bullying and not coping with pressure. This compares with published figures of less than 40% for SDQ when used as a screening tool for clinical risks.

Schools find that AS Tracking becomes the vital fourth piece of their pastoral care jigsaw.

 


“There is increasing evidence the AS Tracking system detects risks such as self-harm, bullying and anxiety, depressive, controlled thinking concerns. There are also striking indicators it may identify and be diagnostically useful for emerging neuro-developmental conditions such as ASD, ADHD and others. This tracking data can be passed to clinicians, such as nurses, counsellors, CAMHS, psychiatrists and GPs”

Frank O’Kelly MBE MB BS MRCGP DA(UK) DCH DRCOG

 


 

AS TRACKING  –  INFORMATION FOR SCHOOLS

 

AS Tracking provides a school with:

      • A pioneering online whole-school SCREENING assessment that screens pupils quickly and non-intrusively, twice yearly, for Steering Cognition patterns that indicate poor self-regulation.
      • Risks may include mental health issues such as controlled eating, anxiety, over-checking and fixating; Social competencies problems such as dominating others, social mimicry and entitlement; Limiting learning behaviours such as not being open to feedback, complacency, lack of focus and inappropriate expectations.
      • An online INDIVIDUAL ACTION PLANNING tool, using expert guidance, equipping schools to put in place targeted intervention to support specific pupils.
      • An evidence-based TRACKING system, which charts the impact of Action Plans, helping schools to evidence the impact of their pastoral care.
      • An HOUSE/YEAR GROUP ACTION PLANNING tool, which provides whole house and year group plans which will ensure that the ‘school road’ supports pupils making emotionally healthy, prosocial, wise choices.
      • Tracks children from the AGES 8 – post school, providing a valuable 10 year data asset which can support a young adult over transition to university or the work place.

 

 

IncipientRisk_square

“AS Tracking has had a fantastic impact in our boarding houses. It’s enabled us to identify at a really early stage those pupils who are at a hidden risk of developing social and emotional difficulties; we know how to help them and can track their progress over the coming terms. Working proactively and strategically has significantly reduced the number of pupils in need of critical pastoral support.”

Head of Welfare, Monkton Combe School

Since its launch in September 2015 a new day or boarding school has been adopting AS Tracking every week of the school year.

 


 

AS TRACKING – IMPACT ON SCHOOLS

 

“What AS Tracking does is provide measurement and evidence to back the knowledge we have and potentially identify children ahead of a crisis or who are struggling without us knowing. Also, for new children arriving in the school at the age of 13, whom staff don’t know so well, we are able to get a much fuller picture.” Pastoral Leader, Wellington College

“It is very striking how the system works to identify the right children. It enables us to work out, with even more certainty, which boys need help and where to focus in that boy’s life.”
Senior Master, Harrow

“I vividly remember the AST consultant calling us to say she was particularly worried about the results she saw for one pupil, and it was a teenager who had, unbeknown to her, had a serious meltdown only a few days before. That was a striking moment, realising that a simple but clever online test could be that powerful. It was astonishing and very compelling.”
Headmaster, London Day School

“The impact has ranged from simply increasing awareness of the needs of specific individuals, leading to better decisions about what to spend time on in discussions, to report writing and new ways of deciding how to guide boys.”
House Parent, UK Boarding school

“There are numerous examples that I could offer where AS Tracking has given me an insight into a pupil that I would otherwise not have. It’s the best tool at my disposal to help me in my job by far.”
Pastoral Lead, UK school

“We received an email from a set of distraught parents yesterday as issues have been arising for her son. The boy was flagged as a priority following the assessment in January. Before we had AST this would have made me quite anxious about what to do next. It’s so useful to have the assessment data/action planning to hand to get clarity on the issues and specifically how to help.”
House Parent with 17 years experience, UK school

“One of the strengths of AST has been to help us fine tune action plans for specific pupils, where, although the presenting issues are the same, the root causes are not.”
Houseparent, Monkton Combe School

“I was blown away by their conviction but even more, I was impressed by how articulate they were in analysing and describing their pupils. There was real insight, texture and sophistication.”
Delegate speaking of the skills of teachers using AST at the recent AS Tracking Practitioner Conference

” AS Tracking has enabled us to develop highly detailed and well-focused targets for our pupils. Over time, I am confident that the system will allow us to redress the balance of our assessment systems: increasing the focus on children’s social and emotional development; highlighting individuals needing further support and allowing us to monitor the impact of interventions with the same degree of rigour currently applied to the analysis of pupils’ academic progress. ”
Headteacher, Thomas’s Academy, London


 

TO DISCUSS HOW AS TRACKING CAN BE ADOPTED BY YOUR SCHOOL CALL +44 01225 667232   OR EMAIL FIONA@MIND.WORLD

  AS TRACKING COSTS

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AS Tracking in the news

MARCH 2017

AS Tracking is currently receiving a high volume of attention due to media coverage of a story at present. Back in 2013, Principals of the Thomas’s London Day Schools Ben and Tobyn Thomas helped Dr Simon and Dr Jo Walker launch AS Tracking and the Footprints curriculum. With a vision of tracking a child’s emotional development as rigorously as their academic development, Thomas’s Battersea was the first school in the world to use Footprints and AS Tracking to screen, track and support all their pupils’ emotional development. AS Tracking is now used in nearly 50 leading independent schools in the UK to safeguard the wellbeing of nearly 20,000 children.

 

 

ISM logoJUNE 2016

Independent Schools Magazine features full page article on the experience of one school using AS Tracking to move pastoral care successfully from the reactive to the proactive.

 

 

 

hmc APRIL 28th 2016

Dr Simon and Jo Walker are keynoting and presenting 5 years of research, with over 15,000 children, to the HMC ‘Mental health: what works in schools’ Heads’ conference in London, into how to measure, track and improve the development of pupil’s soft social and emotional welfare, using AS Tracking.

 

 

 

 

tes logoApril 22nd 2016

TES Magazine features substantial item on how AS Tracking is being used to spot pupil wellbeing risks early. Harrow’s experience of AST is highlighted, with quotes and stories from Pieter Bieneman of Harrow, and Chris Jeffrey of  The Grange, who is also Chair of the HMC Wellbeing Committee.

 

 

 

 

Mary boustedAprils 22nd 2016

According to the TES, General Secrtary of the ATL “supports the idea of tracking pupil’s mental health in a more systematic way” and says AST is ” another tool in a school’s armoury.” Ms Bousted suggested AST “wouldn’t catch a pupil who really wanted to hide their issues”. In reply, to be precise, AST will detect 82 out of every 100 children at risk, including those trying to hide their issues.

 

 

 

telegraphApril 22nd 2016

The Daily Telegraph feature a strong article on AS Tracking, focusing on how the AST pioneering ‘steering’ diagnostic overcomes the filtering that undermines traditional pupil surveys. “Teachers say they are opting for the tool as a preventive measure” [to combat rising pressures on children].

 

 

 

 

BPSAPRIL 7th 2016

The British Psychological Society has commissioned new courses to introduce Educational psychologists to AS Tracking. ’Making visible the invisible’ and  ‘Measuring the Unmeasured’ are two courses to be held in London in 2016 which explore how pupil mental health risks caused by poor self-regulation can be tracked and supported by AS Tracking, with effective results.

 

 

 

 

Monkton conferenceFEBRUARY 25th 2016

Monkton Combe School in Bath were delighted to welcome delegates from 25 schools across the country to learn more about Monkton’s pioneering approach to pastoral care using AS Tracking. With Sir Anthony Seldon OBE as guest speaker, the conference focussed on Monkton’s early adoption of AS Tracking which is proving to be invaluable to Houseparents in particular as a proactive, evidence based, targeted pastoral care system.  We hope you enjoy this snippet below which gives a brief overview of the day.http://www.monktoncombeschool.com/about-monkton/conferences-monkton.html

 

 

 JANUARY 2016wellington_uk_alam_2370383b

Harrow is the latest in a string of top ranked schools to adopt AS Tracking.  Eleven UK schools already use AS Tracking to reduce the risks of their pupils developing welfare concerns and embed proactive, evidence-based, targeted pastoral care, including Wellington College, Millfield and The Grange.

 

 

 

 

thomas academyDECEMBER 2015

Thomas’s Academy in London becomes the first state primary to adopt AS Tracking. Situated in multi-cultural West London, Thomas’s Academy serves the local community and is excited about developing its proactive, evidence-based targeted pastoral care using AS Tracking.

 

 

 

sunday times

OCTOBER 4TH 2015

AS Tracking is helping schools fight the rising mental health crisis, says Sunday Times front page article
“At schools using the [AS Tracking] ‘early-warning system’ de­sign­ed to try to pick up pupils at risk, the online assessment scores sound alarm bells and the school then intervenes using a range of measures to support the children thought to be vulnerable”

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Schools using AS Tracking

MORE AND MORE SCHOOLS ARE CHOOSING TO USE AS TRACKING

 

 

“I wonder whether you have heard about AS Tracking? My daughter had a particularly challenging time at school and I’m sure would have benefited enormously if (school) had had this sort of pastoral care system in place. As you will see, these schools are using AS Tracking to detect pastoral care issues before they happen.  Having just watched an introduction it seems to me to be enormously empowering for both teachers and parents.” Parent writing to school Head

“What AS Tracking does is provide measurement and evidence to back the knowledge we have and potentially identify children ahead of a crisis or who are struggling without us knowing. Also, for new children arriving in the school at the age of 13, whom staff don’t know so well, we are able to get a much fuller picture.” Pastoral Leader, Wellington College

“It is very striking how the system works to identify the right children. It enables us to work out, with even more certainty, which boys need help and where to focus in that boy’s life.”
Senior Master, Harrow

“I vividly remember the AST consultant calling us to say she was particularly worried about the results she saw for one pupil, and it was a teenager who had, unbeknown to her, had a serious meltdown only a few days before. That was a striking moment, realising that a simple but clever online test could be that powerful. It was astonishing and very compelling.”
Headmaster, London Day School

“The impact has ranged from simply increasing awareness of the needs of specific individuals, leading to better decisions about what to spend time on in discussions, to report writing and new ways of deciding how to guide boys.”
House Parent, UK Boarding school

“There are numerous examples that I could offer where AS Tracking has given me an insight into a pupil that I would otherwise not have. It’s the best tool at my disposal to help me in my job by far.”
Pastoral Lead, UK school

“With the emphasis of inspections shifting to place the emphasis on outcomes for pupils’ achievement and personal development, schools will want to find ways of measuring the impact of their provision in order to review and refine what they do to help pupils flourish. AS Tracking provides us with the data to support that requirement.“   Head and ISI inspector

“We received an email from a set of distraught parents yesterday as issues have been arising for her son. The boy was flagged as a priority following the assessment in January. Before we had AST this would have made me quite anxious about what to do next. It’s so useful to have the assessment data/action planning to hand to get clarity on the issues and specifically how to help.”

House Parent with 17 years experience, UK school

“One of the strengths of AST has been to help us fine tune action plans for specific pupils, where, although the presenting issues are the same, the root causes are not.”
Houseparent, Monkton Combe School

“I was blown away by their conviction but even more, I was impressed by how articulate they were in analysing and describing their pupils. There was real insight, texture and sophistication.”
Delegate speaking of the skills of teachers using AST at the recent AS Tracking Practitioner Conference

” AS Tracking has enabled us to develop highly detailed and well-focused targets for our pupils. Over time, I am confident that the system will allow us to redress the balance of our assessment systems: increasing the focus on children’s social and emotional development; highlighting individuals needing further support and allowing us to monitor the impact of interventions with the same degree of rigour currently applied to the analysis of pupils’ academic progress. ”
Headteacher, Thomas’s Academy, London


 

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our-technologies

OUR TECHNOLOGIES

Our technologies equip schools to improve student Steering Cognition for a safer, brighter future

AS Tracking

AS Tracking improves pupil self-regulation. Detecting poor self-regulation early can promote healthy pupil wellbeing and reduce mental health risks.

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CAS Tracking

CAS Tracking improves student Steering Cognition. Research shows English, Maths and Science subjects require good Steering Cognition to achieve rounded academic success.

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TEROS

TEROS helps schools protect their pupils from developing invisible cultural, ethnic or religious biases which may be damaging to themselves and others.

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Measuring the Mind

Measuring the Mind is a global schools’ research programme. Part of Mind.World, the programme is building understanding of how to educate heuristic cognitive capacities not easily replicable by machines.

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footprints

Footprints

WE’VE DEVELOPED THE  FOOTPRINTS CURRICULUM TO HELP IMPROVE CHILDREN IN KEY STAGE TWO DEVELOP A HEALTHY SENSE OF THEM SELF & OF OTHERS

London schools share some of their Yr 5 and 6 children’s videos and work from the KS2 Footprints curriculum.

Lottie (year 5) My Footprints video

 

Our Year 5 Footprints work

NOW VISIT THE FOOTPRINTS SITE TO READ THE STORIES YOURSELF!

research

Research

MIND.WORLD Education’s pioneering technologies, including AS Tracking, are designed to improve pupil STEERING COGNITION. They are founded upon a robust, quantitative research programme which has been running for over 15 years.

Steering Cognition has been researched since 2000, through a quantitative and qualitative research programme in the UK and internationally led by Dr Simon P. Walker. The programme has involved many researchers and more than 15,000 study participants from the ages of 8 to 65. You can find full explanations and publications at STEERINGCOGNITION.ORG

 

 

 

What is Steering Cognition?

 

Steering Cognition is a model of executive cognitive functions which contribute to how we regulate our attention and coordinate our corresponding responses.

Steering Cognition is a way of explaining how the brain biases attention toward specific stimuli whilst ignoring others, before coordinating responsive actions which cohere with our past patterns of self-representation. Steering Cognition enables us to use our limited cognitive resources to make sense of the world that we expect to see. The analogy of the car is sometimes used to explain Steering Cognition. As the ‘controls of our mind’, Steering Cognition regulates its direction, brakes and gears. Studies have shown that it is distinct from the ‘engine’ of our mind, sometimes referred to as ‘algorithmic processing’, which is responsible for how we process complex calculations.

Regulating our Steering Cognition involves conscious effort; much like driving off-road, we particularly need to regulate our Steering Cognition when we are facing unpredictable and varied situations and stimuli. Failing to do so can result in cognitive, affective and social biases. The state of our Steering Cognition at any time is influenced by the priming effect of the surrounding environment. Studies have shown that environment biasing of our Steering Cognition can contribute to non-conscious in-group behaviours, e.g. an increased likelihood of group-think or emotional contagion.

Studies have shown that during adolescence individuals develop more fixed patterns of steering. By adulthood, these patterns become recognisable as mental traits, behaviours and social attributes. There is some evidence that people with more flexible Steering Cognition are advantaged in jobs which require greater social or cognitive dexterity. Steering Cognition has been shown to depend on our ability to mental simulate, or imagine ourselves performing tasks and functions. As such, Steering Cognition requires the capacity to self-represent, associating memories of our past and possible future selves. Steering Cognition has been shown to implicate our emotional (affective), social and abstract cognitions.

The term ‘Steering Cognition’ was coined by the researcher Simon P. Walker who discovered consistent, replicable patterns of attention and corresponding response through repeated cognitive tests between 2000 and 2015, in studies with over 15,000 individuals. Working with his colleague Jo Walker, he was able to show that these patterns correlated with other cognitive attributes such as mental wellbeing, social competency and academic performance. Together, Walker and Walker conjecture that Steering Cognition is a central mechanism by which people self-regulate their cognitive, emotional and social states.

 

Why is Steering Cognition important in education?

 

Steering Cognition has the potential to explain previously unquantified effects of education which have significant consequences for pupil learning and welfare.

The importance of Steering Cognition lies in its explanation of human behaviours which lead to either risks or advantages for individuals and collective groups. A car driver with poor control will increase risks for himself and others. Similarly, individuals with poor Steering Cognition may increase risks for themselves and others whilst those with better steering travel further and more safely. Importantly, the ability to regulate one’s Steering Cognition is unrelated to IQ or rational group behaviour, so measuring Steering Cognition offers an explanation of behaviours and events not currently detected by traditional metrics and models.

RISKS

  • Poorly regulated Steering Cognition has been shown to correlate strongly with increased mental health and welfare risks during adolescence. A study in 2015 showed that pupils with certain fixed biases in their Steering Cognition were four times more likely to exhibit self-harm, be bullied or not cope with school pressures.
  • Secondary school environments which focus on accelerating pupil progress against narrow academic targets have been shown to impede the development of pupils’ ability to regulate their Steering Cognition, leading to some potentially increased mental health and welfare risks READ ARTICLE.
  • Closed group environments have been shown to result in collective biases in Steering Cognition, which increase in-group defensiveness, cognitive blindness and potential prejudice. This suggests that, at a cognitive level, radicalisation may involve the biasing of individuals’ Steering Cognition, through closed environmental priming effects, which in turn lead to hostile attitudes and actions.

ADVANTAGES

  • The ability to regulate your Steering Cognition has been shown to account for up to 15% of academic outcomes at secondary school. Unlike IQ, Steering Cognition can be improved through coaching and specific teaching approaches, providing a potentially untapped educational dividend for schools.
  • A large 2014 study showed that Boarding school education results in better pupil ability to regulate Steering Cognition across social situations than Day school education. This is conjectured to lead to continued social advantages beyond school, such as access to future in-group benefits in work and wider society. Such an effect may contribute to different social and employment outcomes for those from fee paying boarding schools, despite improvements in academic standards across all sectors of society. READ ARTICLE
  • Employers have been shown to seek employees for higher-level roles such as management and leadership who have better, more flexible Steering Cognition.

SCROLL DOWN TO READ PUBLICATIONS PRESENTING THESE FINDINGS BELOW

 

 

 

Primary publications

DOCTORAL RESEARCH BEHIND THE DEVELOPMENT OF AS TRACKING

Equipping pupils to steer the road of adolescence: The innovation and impact of AS Tracking: an educational tool to assess, support and track pupil self-regulation , Walker J. , 2017

Professional doctoral context statement evaluating a 12 year journey between 2003 and 2015 to develop, implement and train schools to use AS Tracking, a pioneering pupil welfare and pastoral care tool which assesses, tracks and improves pupil self-regulation of Steering Cognition.

Becoming Undefended: Freeing leaders from fear, Walker Simon P., 2014

Professional doctoral context statement evaluating a 10 year programme of coaching and training courses between 2000 and 2010, designed to reduce defended behaviours amongst commercial, educational and third sector leaders by increasing their self-awareness and responsibility for personal  Steering Cognition biases.    

NOTE ON DOCTORAL PAPER: The term Steering Cognition was coined in 2015 and, whilst measured and improved by similar cognitive technologies, is here referred to by the name of its specific data model, Human Ecology Theory.

 

PRIMARY QUANTITATIVE RESEARCH INTO STEERING COGNITION

pdf-icon THINKING, STRAIGHT OR TRUE?, Walker Simon P., 2015

A detailed publication of empirical methods and findings from a wide 15 year research programme describing our central claims: the cognitive, social and mental health implications of the self-regulation of Steering Cognition.

pdf-iconThe Motorway Model of education: Teaching pupils to drive their minds fast but not teaching them to steer

Publication of our 2015 study involving nearly 4,000 pupils across 20 UK secondary schools which answered the question: Model. Do pupils at schools which show Motorway Model characteristics exhibit narrower cognitive abilities than pupils at schools which show less of those Motorway characteristics? If so, what might the consequences be for employability beyond school?

pdf-iconMental health risks of the Motorway Model of education

Publication of our 2015 study involving more than 6,000 pupils across 16 UK secondary schools which answered the question: Is there a link between schools exhibiting the characteristics of the Motorway Model and increased pupil mental health risks?

Steering with others in mind: The impacts of day and boarding education on the cognition of pdf-iconsocial agility and cohesion, Walker Simon P, Walker J., 2015

Publication of our 2015 study involving 4,000 pupils across 20 UK secondary schools which answered the question: Do pupils from private schools develop social, emotional or cognitive skills not currently measured by academic assessments which contribute to them securing more elite roles in industry and society?

pdf-icon Engaging students in optimising their metacognition, Walker Simon P., 2015

Working paper reporting findings from a 6 month study seeking to improve academic outcomes amongst first year UK undergraduates by improving the self-regulation of their Steering Cognition

pdf-icon Navigating the world by heuristic bias, Walker Simon P., 2014

Early studies evidencing that the self-regulation of Steering Cognition was distinct from IQ-like algorithmic cognition and contributed to academic outcomes at secondary school.

pdf-icon Educating the self-regulation of bias, Walker Simon P., 2014

Early studies evidencing that the self-regulation of Steering Cognition is ecologically influenced by secondary school environment and is teachable.

 

AS TRACKING DATAMODEL: THEORETICAL PAPERS AND LITERATURE REVIEWS UNDERPINNING THE DATAMODEL OF AS TRACKING

pdf-icon AS Tracking: Self Regulation: the ability to make wise choices, Walker J., 2015

Theoretical paper describing the relationship between Walker and Walker’s model of Steering Cognition and theories of self-regulation

pdf-icon AS Tracking: A psychological and developmental understanding of trust of self, Walker J., 2015

Theoretical paper describing the relationship between Walker and Walker’s model of Steering Cognition and developmental theories of self

pdf-icon AS Tracking: A psychological and developmental understanding of seeking change, Walker J., 2015

Theoretical paper describing the relationship between Walker and Walker’s model of Steering Cognition and developmental theories of risk-taking and self-expansion

pdf-icon AS Tracking: A psychological and developmental understanding of self-disclosure, Walker J., 2015

Theoretical paper describing the relationship between Walker and Walker’s model of Steering Cognition and developmental theories of self-presentation and disclosure

pdf-icon AS Tracking: A psychological and developmental understanding of trust of others, Walker J., 2015

Theoretical paper describing the relationship between Walker and Walker’s model of Steering Cognition and developmental theories of self-other individuation

pdf-icon AS Tracking: A psychological and developmental understanding of over self-regulation, Walker J., 2015

Theoretical paper describing the relationship between Walker and Walker’s model of Steering Cognition and theories of over self-regulation

pdf-icon The AS Tracking assessment: An ecological assessment to measure Steering Cognition, Walker J., Walker S., 2015

Paper describing the theoretical, empirical and statistical evidence for AS Tracking as a measure of pupil Steering Cognition. Describes studies evidencing the validity, reliability and norms of AS Tracking as an instrument.

 

 

 

 

What literature underpins Steering Cognition?

 

Steering Cognition is a term coined by Simon P. Walker to describe a novel construct which is associated with the following major existing research literature fields in cognitive and social psychology:

EXECUTIVE FUNCTION

  • Steering Cognition is a model of social and cognitive executive function. It is explains a functional governor mechanism by which the mind coordinates attention and executes responsive action.

METACOGNITION

  • Steering Cognition is a model of metacognition. It describes the capacity of the mind to exert conscious control over its reasoning and processing strategies in relation to external data and internal state

SELF-REGULATION

  • Steering Cognition is an explanatory mechanism of some phenomena of affective, cognitive and social self-regulation. It describes effortful control processes which exhibit depletion after strain.

MENTAL SIMULATION CIRCUITRY

  • Steering Cognition has been repeatedly shown to implicate the mind’s mental simulation circuitry. As such, it is associated with functional neural circuits involved in projective and retrospective memory, self-representation, associative processing and imagination.

CONSCIOUS / NON-CONSCIOUS

  • Steering Cognition provides an account of the transitioning process from non-conscious, or automatic, to conscious processing that occurs in the mind (see Dual Process Theory).

DUAL PROCESS THEORY:

  • According to the Steering Cognition model, dual process System 1 functions as a serial cognitive steering processor for System 2, rather than the traditionally understood parallel system. In order to process epistemically varied environmental data, a Steering Cognition orientation system is required to align varied, incoming environmental data with existing neural algorithmic processes. The brain’s associative simulation capacity, centered around the imagination, plays an integrator role to perform this function (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dual_process_theory#Dual_Process_and_Steering_Cognition).

 

 

COGNITIVE BIASES

  • In the cognitive steering model, a conscious state emerges from effortful associative simulation, required to align novel data accurately with remote memory, via later algorithmic processes. By contrast, fast unconscious automaticity is constituted by unregulated simulatory biases, which induce errors in subsequent algorithmic processes. The phrase ‘rubbish in, rubbish out’ is used to explain errorful Steering Cognition processing: errors will always occur if the accuracy of initial retrieval and location of data is poorly self-regulated.

SOCIAL PRIMING

  • Steering Cognition provides an explanation of how the mind is nonconsciously influenced by the environmental cues, or primes, around it. Steering Cognition studies have produced data of attentional bias best explained by environmental priming.

ALGORITHMIC – HEURISTIC COGNITION

  • Steering Cognition has been shown to rely upon associative rather than algorithmic cognitive processing and is best understood as heuristic in purpose- guiding the direction of our mind. Steering Cognition conceptualises the relationship between these algorithmic and associative functions as serial rather than parallel pathways. Our Steering Cognition guides our attention prior to algorithmic data processing.

HUMAN ECOLOGY THEORY

  • A specific data model, Human Ecology Theory, underpins the Steering Cognition findings to date. Walker conducted variatiants of the same cognitive test with more than 11,000 candidates between the ages of 8 and 60 between 2002 and 2015. Using Principle Component Analysis, Walker was able to identify 7 latent largely independent ‘heuristic substitution’ factors which he labelled S, L, X, P, M, O, T . Subsequent exploratory factor analysis confirmed a largely orthogonal factor analysis structure. In 2014 Walker referred to this 7 factor model as the Human Ecology model of CAS state – cognitive affective social state . Also that year, Walker J. described four of the factors in greater detail (S, L, X and P) elucidating the relationships of the factors to affective-social self-regulation literature.

 

 

 


 

Selected cited Steering Cognition research literature

 

Alter, Adam L.; Oppenheimer, Daniel M.; Epley, Nicholas; Eyre, Rebecca N. (2007): Overcoming intuition: Metacognitive difficulty activates analytic reasoning. In Journal of Experimental Psychology: General 136 (4), pp. 569–576. DOI: 10.1037/0096-3445.136.4.569.
Amsel, Eric; Klaczynski, Paul A.; Johnston, Adam; Bench, Shane; Close, Jason; Sadler, Eric; Walker, Rick (2008): A dual-process account of the development of scientific reasoning: The nature and development of metacognitive intercession skills. In Cognitive Development 23 (4), pp. 452–471. DOI: 10.1016/j.cogdev.2008.09.002.
Ball, Linden J.; Phillips, Peter; Wade, Caroline N.; Quayle, Jeremy D. (2006): Effects of Belief and Logic on Syllogistic Reasoning. In Experimental Psychology 53 (1), pp. 77–86. DOI: 10.1027/16183169.53.1.77.
Banich, Marie T. (2009): Executive Function: The Search for an Integrated Account. In Current Directions in Psychological Science 18 (2), pp. 89–94. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-8721.2009.01615.x.
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steering-with-others-in-mind-two

Steering with others in mind- measuring the effect of boarding education on the mind

By Dr Simon Walker, Mind. World April 2017

 

Dr Simon Walker will today announce findings from a large study into the effects of different kinds of education on the developing minds of young people. The study involving nearly 4,000 11-18 year old students from 20 UK state and independent day and boarding schools. Key lines:

  • Boarding and day schools form the developing minds of students in distinct and different ways
  • Boarding develops minds with greater social flexibility and emotional responsiveness, often desired by employers
  • Pressurised day schools can develop minds which drive fast but which are more vulnerable to emotional crashing
  • The positive effects of boarding can be transferred to other schools through greater focus on communitarian schooling
  • These results show how education can both tackle mental health problems and improve employment skills

Dr Walker’s team measured a function of the mind which they call ‘steering cognition’ in more than 4,000 students from 20 state and independent day and boarding schools. Lead researcher Dr Simon Walker said “If you think of a child as a car, then IQ is like the engine. By contrast, steering cognition is the steering, brakes and accelerator of the mind. Just as good drivers in a real car steer carefully, so children who are able to steer their thinking are socially and emotionally more heathy.” Poor steering has been shown to increase mental health risks in children such as self-harm, anxiety, not coping with pressure and social risk taking.

This new research showed that students at boarding schools developed steering which was more attuned, responsive and collaborative to others than students at day schools. By contrast, highly academic performing day schools, whether state or independent, led to student steering patterns linked to greater risks of self-harm and not coping with pressure.

Walker provides an analogy to explain these findings. “It’s as if high performing day schools create drivers focused in on their own dashboard. They are too solitary, under pressure to drive fast, and are vulnerable to crashing. By contrast, students at boarding schools are better at looking out of their mental windows and adjusting how they drive to the needs of others round them. The minds of boarding students showed greater social flexibility and emotional responsiveness.”

Significantly, whether the day school was fee paying, or state funded, made no difference to this finding. The source of the difference lay in the strong communitarian experience of being in a close-knit social group which a boarding school house provides. Contrary to some assumptions, the boarding experience did not lead to a dominating, ego-driven young mind, but a mind more attuned to sharing, compromise, getting on with others and working together.

This is the first time the effect of boarding and day education has been measured through the impact they respectively have on the way students’ minds are actually developing.

The lead researcher suggests that certain features of a boarding education could be applied to all schools, to improve mental health and future employability skills. These educational features include a rounded school day, with greater emphasis on communitarian rather than individual outcomes. They also include experiences such as strong group competition, community service, coupled with proactive emotional tracking.

He suggests “A narrow, pressurised education could create more isolated individuals at greater risk of future mental health problems. By contrast, we now know what educational features contribute positively to both mental health and employability outcomes for young people.”

Dr Walker has experience of what corporate businesses want, having spent a decade working as a consultant for firms like Accenture and PWC. “Employers like Deloittes and Penguin are increasingly looking for graduates with emotional resilience, team-work, and negotiation skills rather than just top grades; the behaviours we observed developing through a more rounded education.”

The government is currently conducting an inquiry into what education can do to tackle a growing mental health crisis amongst adolescent children. It is also looking to make education more effective in producing graduates able to compete in a tough employment market.

early-warning-system-detects-pupil-mental-health-risks

Early-warning system detects pupil mental health risks

By Dr Simon Walker, Mind. World Education, 5.10.2015

 

On the eve of its annual meeting, the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference (HMC), which represents the country’s most famous schools, including Eton, Harrow and Westminster, gave The Sunday Times exclusive figures from a survey of 65 of its schools. These showed that independent school pupils were kinder to others than themselves. However, they also acknowledged pupil mental health significant concerns:

• More than 85% of them were concerned about the amount of depression among their pupils, an 85% increase on the proportion five years ago; 42% said it was a “significant” concern, compared to 12% in 2010

• A 57% increase in schools reporting self-harm as a problem and a 65% jump in the number worried by the amount of pupils with eating disorders.

(http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/news/uk_news/youngminds/article1615401.ece)

Dr Simon Walker, research director at Mind. World Education, anticipated a growing pupil mental health problem back in 2011, and began research to develop a technology to measure, track and improve pupil self-regulation- a key component of good mental health. The technology, launched in September 2015, is called AS Tracking- which stands for Affective (emotional) Social.

THE CRITICAL FACTOR OF SELF-REGULATION

Since the 1990s, academic research has repeatedly shown that a pupil’s affective-social self-regulation is critical for both a pupil’s learning but more importantly, for mental health and wellbeing. Pupils who can self-regulate show better resilience, social competence and resourcefulness.

The research team was co-led by Jo Walker, an experienced BESD advisor and former Deputy Head, and her goal was to develop a system both rigorous but also practical for schools. “My experience as a local authority advisor showed me that teachers value clear, practical guidance as to how to better support pupil’s self-regulation, with targeted strategies, that can be implemented within the school environment.”

As part of her Doctoral research into AS Tracking at the University of Winchester, Jo Walker extensively researched four key factors of a pupil’s self-regulation: their self-disclosure, their trust of them self; their trust of others; their seeking of change. Robust academic literature reviews underpin each of these four AS Tracking factors, with our own papers published here.

OBTAINING ACCURATE SELF-REGULATION DATA

One obstacle to be overcome was how to measure pupil self-regulation itself, rather than a pupil’s report of their self-regulation. The research team found traditional pupil surveys dangerously suggestive, including questions like ‘I feel like I want to harm myself’.  Many pupils are also reluctant to admit to such feelings in ‘named surveys’, whilst anonymous questionnaires fail to identify which pupil are at risk.

To overcome these obstacles, the research team, lead by psychologist and psychometric author Dr Simon Walker, developed a pioneering technology which tests how a pupil is actually self-regulating across 16 different scenarios, without asking any leading, probing or suggestive questions. The proprietary test is deployed online and a combination of a pupil’s speed, response patterns and orientation to neutral scenarios are computed by our complex AS Tracking algorithm, to provide eight early-indicators of the pupil’s self-regulation risks.

Developing the AS Tracking algorithm has taken four major quantitative studies, with more than 11,000 pupils across 25 primary and secondary schools in the UK, over 4 years. Using advanced machine-learning techniques to analyse more than 4 million data points, from 80,000 trials,  researchers from a leading global Bioinformatics department were able to refine the accuracy, insight and reliability of the AS Tracking algorithm. The most recent studies have shown that the AS Tracking algorithm is 82% accurate in predicting a pupil’s hidden welfare risks of self harm, or bullying or not coping with pressure at school.

 

IMPROVING SELF-REGULATION

Once the researchers had developed the early-indicator technology, they set about developing the mechanism by which teachers could intervene to improve the self-regulation of pupils identified as at risk. Cognitive psychologists and teachers worked together to write and design strategies that could be practically implemented by teachers within school. The result is the interactive pupil AS Tracking Action Planning tool; teachers can use this to identify a pupil at risk, build a bespoke action plan and email to tutors or colleagues around the pupil, fast and securely. More than 100 teachers took part in trials to refine and improve the Action Planning tool, and more than 150 have now been trained to use the AS Tracking Action Plans, which take typically only about 7 minutes/pupil to write and sit alongside pupil welfare plans.

EVIDENCING IMPACT

The final challenge for the R&D team was to develop the means by which teachers could evidence the impact of the Action Planning strategies. Drawing on her experience developing a Whole School BESD tracking tool across Oxfordshire LA in 2008, Jo Walker designed the Tracking Tool in AS Tracking, by which teachers can evidence the impact that intervention strategies have had on pupil self-regulation over the year.

Studies have shown that in one school, 8/10 AS Tracking Action Plans improved pupil self-regulation over an 18 month period reducing the school’s welfare risks and increasing its capacity to develop emotionally healthy pupils who are able to make wise, pro-social choices.

ONGOING RESEARCH
Human Ecology Education performs continuous trials to improve the reliability and accuracy of AS Tracking. Since its launch, client schools are invited to submit their data for ongoing research purposes, which are analysed to provide greater understanding of pupil self-regulation.

Dr Simon and Jo Walker have been invited to deliver workshops for the British Psychological Society on AS Tracking in April and October 2016. Details will shortly be available on the BPS web site.

research-papers

Research paper findings

MIND.WORLD Education’s pioneering technologies, including AS Tracking, are designed to improve pupil STEERING COGNITION. They are founded upon a robust, quantitative research programme which has been running for over 15 years.

Steering Cognition has been researched since 2000, through a quantitative and qualitative research programme in the UK and internationally led by Dr Simon P. Walker. The programme has involved many researchers and more than 15,000 study participants from the ages of 8 to 65. You can find full explanations and publications at STEERINGCOGNITION.ORG

 

 

 

What is Steering Cognition?

 

Steering Cognition is a model of executive cognitive functions which contribute to how we regulate our attention and coordinate our corresponding responses.

Steering Cognition is a way of explaining how the brain biases attention toward specific stimuli whilst ignoring others, before coordinating responsive actions which cohere with our past patterns of self-representation. Steering Cognition enables us to use our limited cognitive resources to make sense of the world that we expect to see. The analogy of the car is sometimes used to explain Steering Cognition. As the ‘controls of our mind’, Steering Cognition regulates its direction, brakes and gears. Studies have shown that it is distinct from the ‘engine’ of our mind, sometimes referred to as ‘algorithmic processing’, which is responsible for how we process complex calculations.

Regulating our Steering Cognition involves conscious effort; much like driving off-road, we particularly need to regulate our Steering Cognition when we are facing unpredictable and varied situations and stimuli. Failing to do so can result in cognitive, affective and social biases. The state of our Steering Cognition at any time is influenced by the priming effect of the surrounding environment. Studies have shown that environment biasing of our Steering Cognition can contribute to non-conscious in-group behaviours, e.g. an increased likelihood of group-think or emotional contagion.

Studies have shown that during adolescence individuals develop more fixed patterns of steering. By adulthood, these patterns become recognisable as mental traits, behaviours and social attributes. There is some evidence that people with more flexible Steering Cognition are advantaged in jobs which require greater social or cognitive dexterity. Steering Cognition has been shown to depend on our ability to mental simulate, or imagine ourselves performing tasks and functions. As such, Steering Cognition requires the capacity to self-represent, associating memories of our past and possible future selves. Steering Cognition has been shown to implicate our emotional (affective), social and abstract cognitions.

The term ‘Steering Cognition’ was coined by the researcher Simon P. Walker who discovered consistent, replicable patterns of attention and corresponding response through repeated cognitive tests between 2000 and 2015, in studies with over 15,000 individuals. Working with his colleague Jo Walker, he was able to show that these patterns correlated with other cognitive attributes such as mental wellbeing, social competency and academic performance. Together, Walker and Walker conjecture that Steering Cognition is a central mechanism by which people self-regulate their cognitive, emotional and social states.

 

Why is Steering Cognition important in education?

 

Steering Cognition has the potential to explain previously unquantified effects of education which have significant consequences for pupil learning and welfare.

The importance of Steering Cognition lies in its explanation of human behaviours which lead to either risks or advantages for individuals and collective groups. A car driver with poor control will increase risks for himself and others. Similarly, individuals with poor Steering Cognition may increase risks for themselves and others whilst those with better steering travel further and more safely. Importantly, the ability to regulate one’s Steering Cognition is unrelated to IQ or rational group behaviour, so measuring Steering Cognition offers an explanation of behaviours and events not currently detected by traditional metrics and models.

RISKS

  • Poorly regulated Steering Cognition has been shown to correlate strongly with increased mental health and welfare risks during adolescence. A study in 2015 showed that pupils with certain fixed biases in their Steering Cognition were four times more likely to exhibit self-harm, be bullied or not cope with school pressures.
  • Secondary school environments which focus on accelerating pupil progress against narrow academic targets have been shown to impede the development of pupils’ ability to regulate their Steering Cognition, leading to some potentially increased mental health and welfare risks READ ARTICLE.
  • Closed group environments have been shown to result in collective biases in Steering Cognition, which increase in-group defensiveness, cognitive blindness and potential prejudice. This suggests that, at a cognitive level, radicalisation may involve the biasing of individuals’ Steering Cognition, through closed environmental priming effects, which in turn lead to hostile attitudes and actions.

ADVANTAGES

  • The ability to regulate your Steering Cognition has been shown to account for up to 15% of academic outcomes at secondary school. Unlike IQ, Steering Cognition can be improved through coaching and specific teaching approaches, providing a potentially untapped educational dividend for schools.
  • A large 2014 study showed that Boarding school education results in better pupil ability to regulate Steering Cognition across social situations than Day school education. This is conjectured to lead to continued social advantages beyond school, such as access to future in-group benefits in work and wider society. Such an effect may contribute to different social and employment outcomes for those from fee paying boarding schools, despite improvements in academic standards across all sectors of society. READ ARTICLE
  • Employers have been shown to seek employees for higher-level roles such as management and leadership who have better, more flexible Steering Cognition.

SCROLL DOWN TO READ PUBLICATIONS PRESENTING THESE FINDINGS BELOW

 

 

 

Primary publications

DOCTORAL RESEARCH BEHIND THE DEVELOPMENT OF AS TRACKING

Equipping pupils to steer the road of adolescence: The innovation and impact of AS Tracking: an educational tool to assess, support and track pupil self-regulation , Walker J. , 2017

Professional doctoral context statement evaluating a 12 year journey between 2003 and 2015 to develop, implement and train schools to use AS Tracking, a pioneering pupil welfare and pastoral care tool which assesses, tracks and improves pupil self-regulation of Steering Cognition.

Becoming Undefended: Freeing leaders from fear, Walker Simon P., 2014

Professional doctoral context statement evaluating a 10 year programme of coaching and training courses between 2000 and 2010, designed to reduce defended behaviours amongst commercial, educational and third sector leaders by increasing their self-awareness and responsibility for personal  Steering Cognition biases.    

NOTE ON DOCTORAL PAPER: The term Steering Cognition was coined in 2015 and, whilst measured and improved by similar cognitive technologies, is here referred to by the name of its specific data model, Human Ecology Theory.

 

PRIMARY QUANTITATIVE RESEARCH INTO STEERING COGNITION

pdf-icon THINKING, STRAIGHT OR TRUE?, Walker Simon P., 2015

A detailed publication of empirical methods and findings from a wide 15 year research programme describing our central claims: the cognitive, social and mental health implications of the self-regulation of Steering Cognition.

pdf-iconThe Motorway Model of education: Teaching pupils to drive their minds fast but not teaching them to steer

Publication of our 2015 study involving nearly 4,000 pupils across 20 UK secondary schools which answered the question: Model. Do pupils at schools which show Motorway Model characteristics exhibit narrower cognitive abilities than pupils at schools which show less of those Motorway characteristics? If so, what might the consequences be for employability beyond school?

pdf-iconMental health risks of the Motorway Model of education

Publication of our 2015 study involving more than 6,000 pupils across 16 UK secondary schools which answered the question: Is there a link between schools exhibiting the characteristics of the Motorway Model and increased pupil mental health risks?

Steering with others in mind : The impacts of day and boarding education on the cognition of pdf-iconsocial agility and cohesion, Walker Simon P, Walker J., 2015

Publication of our 2015 study involving 4,000 pupils across 20 UK secondary schools which answered the question: Do pupils from private schools develop social, emotional or cognitive skills not currently measured by academic assessments which contribute to them securing more elite roles in industry and society?

pdf-icon Engaging students in optimising their metacognition, Walker Simon P., 2015

Working paper reporting findings from a 6 month study seeking to improve academic outcomes amongst first year UK undergraduates by improving the self-regulation of their Steering Cognition

pdf-icon Navigating the world by heuristic bias, Walker Simon P., 2014

Early studies evidencing that the self-regulation of Steering Cognition was distinct from IQ-like algorithmic cognition and contributed to academic outcomes at secondary school.

pdf-icon Educating the self-regulation of bias, Walker Simon P., 2014

Early studies evidencing that the self-regulation of Steering Cognition is ecologically influenced by secondary school environment and is teachable.

 

AS TRACKING DATAMODEL: THEORETICAL PAPERS AND LITERATURE REVIEWS UNDERPINNING THE DATAMODEL OF AS TRACKING

pdf-icon AS Tracking: Self Regulation: the ability to make wise choices, Walker J., 2015

Theoretical paper describing the relationship between Walker and Walker’s model of Steering Cognition and theories of self-regulation

pdf-icon AS Tracking: A psychological and developmental understanding of trust of self, Walker J., 2015

Theoretical paper describing the relationship between Walker and Walker’s model of Steering Cognition and developmental theories of self

pdf-icon AS Tracking: A psychological and developmental understanding of seeking change, Walker J., 2015

Theoretical paper describing the relationship between Walker and Walker’s model of Steering Cognition and developmental theories of risk-taking and self-expansion

pdf-icon AS Tracking: A psychological and developmental understanding of self-disclosure, Walker J., 2015

Theoretical paper describing the relationship between Walker and Walker’s model of Steering Cognition and developmental theories of self-presentation and disclosure

pdf-icon AS Tracking: A psychological and developmental understanding of trust of others, Walker J., 2015

Theoretical paper describing the relationship between Walker and Walker’s model of Steering Cognition and developmental theories of self-other individuation

pdf-icon AS Tracking: A psychological and developmental understanding of over self-regulation, Walker J., 2015

Theoretical paper describing the relationship between Walker and Walker’s model of Steering Cognition and theories of over self-regulation

pdf-icon The AS Tracking assessment: An ecological assessment to measure Steering Cognition, Walker J., Walker S., 2015

Paper describing the theoretical, empirical and statistical evidence for AS Tracking as a measure of pupil Steering Cognition. Describes studies evidencing the validity, reliability and norms of AS Tracking as an instrument.

 

 

 

 

 

 

JoWalkerLEAD RESEARCHERS: DR JO WALKER

DProf, BA, Prof Dip., QTS

 

 

 

SimonWalker

LEAD RESEARCHERS: DR SIMON WALKER

DProf, MTh, MA Oxon, MBPsS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What literature underpins Steering Cognition?

 

Steering Cognition is a term coined by Simon P. Walker to describe a novel construct which is associated with the following major existing research literature fields in cognitive and social psychology:

EXECUTIVE FUNCTION

  • Steering Cognition is a model of social and cognitive executive function. It is explains a functional governor mechanism by which the mind coordinates attention and executes responsive action.

METACOGNITION

  • Steering Cognition is a model of metacognition. It describes the capacity of the mind to exert conscious control over its reasoning and processing strategies in relation to external data and internal state

SELF-REGULATION

  • Steering Cognition is an explanatory mechanism of some phenomena of affective, cognitive and social self-regulation. It describes effortful control processes which exhibit depletion after strain.

MENTAL SIMULATION CIRCUITRY

  • Steering Cognition has been repeatedly shown to implicate the mind’s mental simulation circuitry. As such, it is associated with functional neural circuits involved in projective and retrospective memory, self-representation, associative processing and imagination.

CONSCIOUS / NON-CONSCIOUS

  • Steering Cognition provides an account of the transitioning process from non-conscious, or automatic, to conscious processing that occurs in the mind (see Dual Process Theory).

DUAL PROCESS THEORY:

  • According to the Steering Cognition model, dual process System 1 functions as a serial cognitive steering processor for System 2, rather than the traditionally understood parallel system. In order to process epistemically varied environmental data, a Steering Cognition orientation system is required to align varied, incoming environmental data with existing neural algorithmic processes. The brain’s associative simulation capacity, centered around the imagination, plays an integrator role to perform this function (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dual_process_theory#Dual_Process_and_Steering_Cognition).

 

 

COGNITIVE BIASES

  • In the cognitive steering model, a conscious state emerges from effortful associative simulation, required to align novel data accurately with remote memory, via later algorithmic processes. By contrast, fast unconscious automaticity is constituted by unregulated simulatory biases, which induce errors in subsequent algorithmic processes. The phrase ‘rubbish in, rubbish out’ is used to explain errorful Steering Cognition processing: errors will always occur if the accuracy of initial retrieval and location of data is poorly self-regulated.

SOCIAL PRIMING

  • Steering Cognition provides an explanation of how the mind is nonconsciously influenced by the environmental cues, or primes, around it. Steering Cognition studies have produced data of attentional bias and blindness best explained by environmental priming.

ALGORITHMIC – HEURISTIC COGNITION

  • Steering Cognition has been shown to rely upon associative rather than algorithmic cognitive processing and is best understood as heuristic in purpose- guiding the direction of our mind. Steering Cognition conceptualises the relationship between these algorithmic and associative functions as serial rather than parallel pathways. Our Steering Cognition guides our attention prior to algorithmic data processing.

HUMAN ECOLOGY THEORY

  • A specific data model, Human Ecology Theory, underpins the Steering Cognition findings to date. Walker conducted variatiants of the same cognitive test with more than 11,000 candidates between the ages of 8 and 60 between 2002 and 2015. Using Principle Component Analysis, Walker was able to identify 7 latent largely independent ‘heuristic substitution’ factors which he labelled S, L, X, P, M, O, T . Subsequent exploratory factor analysis confirmed a largely orthogonal factor analysis structure. In 2014 Walker referred to this 7 factor model as the Human Ecology model of CAS state – cognitive affective social state . Also that year, Walker J. described four of the factors in greater detail (S, L, X and P) elucidating the relationships of the factors to affective-social self-regulation literature.

 

 

 


 

Selected cited Steering Cognition research literature

 

Alter, Adam L.; Oppenheimer, Daniel M.; Epley, Nicholas; Eyre, Rebecca N. (2007): Overcoming intuition: Metacognitive difficulty activates analytic reasoning. In Journal of Experimental Psychology: General 136 (4), pp. 569–576. DOI: 10.1037/0096-3445.136.4.569.
Amsel, Eric; Klaczynski, Paul A.; Johnston, Adam; Bench, Shane; Close, Jason; Sadler, Eric; Walker, Rick (2008): A dual-process account of the development of scientific reasoning: The nature and development of metacognitive intercession skills. In Cognitive Development 23 (4), pp. 452–471. DOI: 10.1016/j.cogdev.2008.09.002.
Ball, Linden J.; Phillips, Peter; Wade, Caroline N.; Quayle, Jeremy D. (2006): Effects of Belief and Logic on Syllogistic Reasoning. In Experimental Psychology 53 (1), pp. 77–86. DOI: 10.1027/16183169.53.1.77.
Banich, Marie T. (2009): Executive Function: The Search for an Integrated Account. In Current Directions in Psychological Science 18 (2), pp. 89–94. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-8721.2009.01615.x.
Bargh, J. A.; Morsella, E. (2008): The Unconscious Mind. In Perspectives on Psychological Science 3 (1), pp. 73–79. DOI: 10.1111/j.1745-6916.2008.00064.x.
Bargh, John A. (2006): What have we been priming all these years? On the development, mechanisms, and ecology of nonconscious social behavior. In Eur. J. Soc. Psychol. 36 (2), pp. 147– 168. DOI: 10.1002/ejsp.336.
Bargh, John A.; Chen, Mark; Burrows, Lara (1996): Automaticity of social behavior: Direct effects of trait construct and stereotype activation on action. In Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 71 (2), pp. 230–244. DOI: 10.1037/0022-3514.71.2.230.
Bargh, John A.; Gollwitzer, Peter M.; Lee-Chai, Annette; Barndollar, Kimberly; Trötschel, Roman (2001): The automated will: Nonconscious activation and pursuit of behavioral goals. In Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 81 (6), pp. 1014–1027. DOI: 10.1037/0022-3514.81.6.1014.
Bargh, John A.; Schwader, Kay L.; Hailey, Sarah E.; Dyer, Rebecca L.; Boothby, Erica J. (2012): Automaticity in social-cognitive processes. In Trends in Cognitive Sciences 16 (12), pp. 593–605. DOI: 10.1016/j.tics.2012.10.002.
Bargh J., Chen M., Burrows L. (1996): Automaticity of Social Behavior: Direct Effects of Trait Construct and Stereotype Activation on Action. In Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 71 (2), pp. 230–244.
Bauer, Isabelle, M.; Baumeister, Roy, F. (2011): Self Regulatory Strength. In : Handbook of Self Regulation. Research, Theory and Applications, pp. 64–78.
Baumeister, Roy F.; Bratslavsky, Ellen; Muraven, Mark; Tice, Dianne M. (1998): Ego depletion: Is the active self a limited resource?, Vol 74(5), May 1998, 1252-1265. In Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 74 (5), pp. 1252–1265.
Baumeister, Roy F.; Vohs, Kathleen D. (Eds.) (2004): Handbook of self-regulation. Research, theory, and applications. New York: Guilford Press.
Blair, Clancy (2002): School readiness. Integrating cognition and emotion in a neurobiological conceptualization of children’s functioning at school entry. In The American psychologist 57 (2), pp. 111–127.
Bull, R.; Scerif, G. (2001): Executive functioning as a predictor of children’s mathematics ability: inhibition, switching, and working memory. In Dev Neuropsychol 19 (3), pp. 273–293. DOI: 10.1207/S15326942DN1903_3.
Burgess, Paul W.; Alderman, Nick; Forbes, Catrin; Costello, Angela; Coates, Laure M-A; Dawson, Deirdre R. et al. (2006): The case for the development and use of \”ecologically valid\” measures of executive function in experimental and clinical neuropsychology. In J Int Neuropsychol Soc 12 (2), pp. 194–209. DOI: 10.1017/S1355617706060310.
De Neys W. (2006): Automatic–heuristic and executive–analytic processing during reasoning: Chronometric and dual-task considerations. In The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology 59 (6), pp. 1070–1100. DOI: 10.1080/02724980543000123.
Decety, Jean; Grèzes, Julie (2006): The power of simulation: imagining one’s own and other’s behavior. In Brain Res. 1079 (1), pp. 4–14. DOI: 10.1016/j.brainres.2005.12.115.
Decety, Jean; Sommerville, Jessica A. (2003): Shared representations between self and other: a social cognitive neuroscience view. In Trends in Cognitive Sciences 7 (12), pp. 527–533. DOI: 10.1016/j.tics.2003.10.004.
Demetriou, A. (2000): Organisation and development of self-understanding and self-regulation. In M. Zeidner (Ed.): Handbook of Self-Regulation. San Diego: CA:Academic, pp. 209–251.
Derakshan, Eysenck (2010): Emotional states, attention, and working memory. A special issue of cognition & emotion. Hove: Psychology Press (Cognition & emotion. Special Issue).
Doyen, Stéphane; Klein, Olivier; Pichon, Cora-Lise; Cleeremans, Axel; Lauwereyns, Jan (2012): Behavioral Priming: It’s All in the Mind, but Whose Mind? In PLoS ONE 7 (1), pp. e29081. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0029081.
Duncan, John; McLeod, Peter.; Phillips, Louise (2005): Measuring the mind. Speed, control, and age / edited by John Duncan, Louise Phillips, Peter McLeod. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Eisenberg, N.; Fabes, R. A.; Guthrie, I. K.; Reiser, M. (2000): Dispositional emotionality and regulation: their role in predicting quality of social functioning. In Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 78 (1), pp. 136–157.
Eisenberg, Nancy; Spinrad, Tracy L.; Eggum, Natalie D. (2010): Emotion-related self-regulation and its relation to children’s maladjustment. In Annual review of clinical psychology 6, pp. 495–525. DOI: 10.1146/annurev.clinpsy.121208.131208.
Eisenberg, Nancy; Valiente, Carlos; Fabes, Richard A.; Smith, Cynthia L.; Reiser, Mark; Shepard, Stephanie A. et al. (2003): The relations of effortful control and ego control to children’s resiliency and social functioning. In Dev Psychol 39 (4), pp. 761–776.
Eisenberg N.; Damon w.; Lerner. (Eds.) (2006): Handbook of Child Psychology. New York: Wiley.
Elliott, R. (2003): Executive functions and their disorders. In British Medical Bulletin 65 (1), pp. 49–59. DOI: 10.1093/bmb/65.1.49.
Etkin, Amit; Egner, Tobias; Peraza, Daniel M.; Kandel, Eric R.; Hirsch, Joy (2006): Resolving Emotional Conflict: A Role for the Rostral Anterior Cingulate Cortex in Modulating Activity in the Amygdala. In Neuron 51 (6), pp. 871–882. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuron.2006.07.029.
Euston, David R.; Gruber, Aaron J.; McNaughton, Bruce L. (2012): The role of medial prefrontal cortex in memory and decision making. In Neuron 76 (6), pp. 1057–1070. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuron.2012.12.002.
Evans, Jonathan; Frankish, Keith (2009): In two minds. Dual processes and beyond. Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press.
Evans, Jonathan. (2006): The heuristic-analytic theory of reasoning: Extension and evaluation. In Psychonomic Bulletin & Review 13 (3), pp. 378–395. DOI: 10.3758/BF03193858.
Simon P Walker Thinking straight or true?
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Evans, J. S. B. T.; Stanovich, K. E. (2013): Dual-Process Theories of Higher Cognition: Advancing the Debate. In Perspectives on Psychological Science 8 (3), pp. 223–241. DOI: 10.1177/1745691612460685.
Evans, Jonathan St. B. T. (2010): Thinking twice. Two minds in one brain / Jonathan St B T Evans. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Fernandez-Duque, Diego; Baird, Jodie A.; Posner, Michael I. (2000): Executive Attention and Metacognitive Regulation. In Consciousness and Cognition 9 (2), pp. 288–307. DOI: 10.1006/ccog.2000.0447.
Fisk, Arthur D.; Schneider, Walter (1984): Memory as a function of attention, level of processing, and automatization. In Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition 10 (2), pp. 181–197. DOI: 10.1037/0278-7393.10.2.181.
Gigerenzer, G. (2008): Why Heuristics Work. In Perspectives on Psychological Science 3 (1), pp. 20– 29. DOI: 10.1111/j.1745-6916.2008.00058.x.
Gigerenzer, Gerd; Hertwig, Ralph; Pachur, Thorsten (2011): Heuristics: Oxford University Press.
Gigerenzer, Gerd.; Todd, Peter M. (1999): Simple heuristics that make us smart. New York, Oxford: Oxford University Press (Evolution and cognition).
Gilbert, Sam J.; Frith, Christopher D.; Burgess, Paul W. (2005): Involvement of rostral prefrontal cortex in selection between stimulus-oriented and stimulus-independent thought. In European Journal of Neuroscience 21 (5), pp. 1423–1431. DOI: 10.1111/j.1460-9568.2005.03981.x.
Grove, David J.; Panzer, B. I. (1989): Resolving traumatic memories. Metaphors and symbols in psychotherapy. New York: Irvington Publishers.
Halberstadt, Amy G.; Denham, Susanne A.; Dunsmore, Julie C. (2001): Affective Social Competence. In Social Development 10 (1), pp. 79–119. DOI: 10.1111/1467-9507.00150.
Halford, Graeme S.; Cowan, Nelson; Andrews, Glenda (2007): Separating cognitive capacity from knowledge: a new hypothesis. In Trends in Cognitive Sciences 11 (6), pp. 236–242. DOI: 10.1016/j.tics.2007.04.001.
Halford, Graeme S.; Wilson, William H.; Phillips, Steven (2010): Relational knowledge: the foundation of higher cognition. In Trends in Cognitive Sciences 14 (11), pp. 497–505. DOI: 10.1016/j.tics.2010.08.005.
Halloran, Roberta Kathryn (2011): Self-regulation, executive function, working memory, and academic achievement of female high school students. In ETD Collection for Fordham University, pp. 1–139. Available online at http://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI3452791.
Hofer, Claire; Eisenberg, Nancy; Reiser, Mark (2010): The Role of Socialization, Effortful Control, and Ego Resiliency in French Adolescents’ Social Functioning. In J Res Adolesc 20 (3), pp. 555–582. DOI: 10.1111/j.1532-7795.2010.00650.x.
Human Ecology Education (6/19/2015): The Tribe Effect. UK. Available online at https://mindworld.site/education/press-2/.
Human Ecology Eduction (2015): AS Tracking Technical data. Customer File.
Kahneman, D.; Tversky, A. (1973): On the psychology of prediction. In Psychological Review 80 (4), pp. 237–251.
Kahneman, Daniel (2003): A perspective on judgment and choice: Mapping bounded rationality. In American Psychologist 58 (9), pp. 697–720. DOI: 10.1037/0003-066X.58.9.697.
Kahneman, Daniel (2011): Thinking, fast and slow. 1st ed. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
Kahneman, Daniel; Slovic, Paul; Tversky, Amos (1982): Judgment under uncertainty. Heuristics and biases. Cambridge, New York: Cambridge University Press.
King, Kevin M.; Lengua, Liliana J.; Monahan, Kathryn C. (2013): Individual differences in the development of self-regulation during pre-adolescence: connections to context and adjustment. In Journal of abnormal child psychology 41 (1), pp. 57–69. DOI: 10.1007/s10802-012-9665-0.
Kopp, Richard R.; Craw, Michael Jay (1998): Metaphoric language, metaphoric cognition, and cognitive therapy. In Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, Practice, Training 35 (3), pp. 306–311. DOI: 10.1037/h0087795.

Lakoff, George (1987): Women, fire, and dangerous things. What categories reveal about the mind / George Lakoff. Chicago, London: University of Chicago Press.
Lakoff, George; Turner, Mark (1989): More than cool reason. A field guide to poetic metaphor. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Lavin, Claudio; Melis, Camilo; Mikulan, Ezequiel; Gelormini, Carlos; Huepe, David; Ibañez, Agustin (2013): The anterior cingulate cortex: an integrative hub for human socially-driven interactions. In Front. Neurosci. 7. DOI: 10.3389/fnins.2013.00064.
Lawley, James; Tompkins, Penny (2000): Metaphors in mind. Transformation through symbolic modelling. London: Developing Company Press.
LeDoux, J. E. (2000): Emotion circuits in the brain. In Annu. Rev. Neurosci. 23, pp. 155–184. DOI: 10.1146/annurev.neuro.23.1.155.
Lieberman, Matthew D. (2007): The X- and C-Systems: The Neural Basis of Automatic and Controlled Social Cognition. In Eddie Harmon-Jones, Piotr Winkielman (Eds.): Social neuroscience. Integrating biological and psychological explanations of social behavior. New York: Guilford Press, pp. 290–315.
Mayr, Ulrich; Keele, Steven W. (2001): Changing internal constraints on action: The role of backward inhibition. In Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, Vol 134(3), Aug 2005, 343-367. 129 (1), pp. 4–26.
Miyake, A.; Friedman, N. P.; Emerson, M. J.; Witzki, A. H.; Howerter, A.; Wager, T. D. (2000): The unity and diversity of executive functions and their contributions to complex \”Frontal Lobe\” tasks: a latent variable analysis. In Cogn Psychol 41 (1), pp. 49–100. DOI: 10.1006/cogp.1999.0734.
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The Development of AS Tracking

‘AS Tracking: 4 years of research leads to 2015 launch of pioneering pupil welfare tool’

 

October 2015

In 2011, Human Ecology Education began research to develop a technology to measure, track and improve pupil self-regulation. Dr Simon Walker, lead researcher with specialism in the area of social cognition, explains “The goal of the project was to develop a technology that was psychological rigorous as well as educationally effective.

The research team was co-led by Jo Walker, an experienced BESD advisor and former Deputy Head, who developed the AS Tracking Pupil Action Plans to be as simple and practical for teachers to use as possible. “My experience as a local authority advisor showed me that teachers value clear, practical guidance as to how to better support pupil’s self-regulation, with targeted strategies, that can be implemented within the school environment.”

THE CRITICAL FACTOR OF SELF-REGULATION

AS stands for Affective (emotional) – Social. Since the 1990s, academic research has repeatedly shown that a pupil’s affective-social self-regulation is critical for both a pupil’s learning but more importantly, for mental health and wellbeing. Pupils who can self-regulate show better resilience, social competence and resourcefulness.

As part of her Doctoral research into AS Tracking at the University of Winchester, Jo Walker extensively researched four key factors of a pupil’s self-regulation: their self-disclosure, their trust of them self; their trust of others; their seeking of change. Robust academic literature reviews underpin each of these four AS Tracking factors, with our own papers published here.

OBTAINING ACCURATE SELF-REGULATION DATA

One obstacle to be overcome was how to measure pupil self-regulation itself, rather than a pupil’s report of their self-regulation. The research team found traditional pupil surveys dangerously suggestive, including questions like ‘I feel like I want to harm myself’.  Many pupils are also reluctant to admit to such feelings in ‘named surveys’, whilst anonymous questionnaires fail to identify which pupil are at risk.

To overcome these obstacles, the research team, lead by psychologist and psychometric author Dr Simon Walker, developed a pioneering technology which tests how a pupil is actually self-regulating across 16 different scenarios, without asking any leading, probing or suggestive questions. The proprietary test is deployed online and a combination of a pupil’s speed, response patterns and orientation to neutral scenarios are computed by our complex AS Tracking algorithm, to provide eight early-indicators of the pupil’s self-regulation risks.

Developing the AS Tracking algorithm has taken four major quantitative studies, with more than 11,000 pupils across 25 primary and secondary schools in the UK, over 4 years. Using advanced machine-learning techniques to analyse more than 4 million data points, from 80,000 trials,  researchers from a leading global Bioinformatics department were able to refine the accuracy, insight and reliability of the AS Tracking algorithm. The most recent studies have shown that the AS Tracking algorithm is 82% accurate in predicting a pupil’s hidden welfare risks of self harm, or bullying or not coping with pressure at school.

The researchers are hopeful of obtaining accreditation from the British Psychological Society for AS Tracking, which is the first technology of its kind in the world.

IMPROVING SELF-REGULATION

Once the researchers had developed the early-indicator technology, they set about developing the mechanism by which teachers could intervene to improve the self-regulation of pupils identified as at risk. Cognitive psychologists and teachers worked together to write and design strategies that could be practically implemented by teachers within school. The result is the interactive pupil AS Tracking Action Planning tool; teachers can use this to identify a pupil at risk, build a bespoke action plan and email to tutors or colleagues around the pupil, fast and securely. More than 100 teachers took part in trials to refine and improve the Action Planning tool, and more than 150 have now been trained to use the AS Tracking Action Plans, which take typically only about 7 minutes/pupil to write and sit alongside pupil welfare plans.

EVIDENCING IMPACT

The final challenge for the R&D team was to develop the means by which teachers could evidence the impact of the Action Planning strategies. Drawing on her experience developing a Whole School BESD tracking tool across Oxfordshire LA in 2008, Jo Walker designed the Tracking Tool in AS Tracking, by which teachers can evidence the impact that intervention strategies have had on pupil self-regulation over the year.

Studies have shown that in one school, 8/10 AS Tracking Action Plans improved pupil self-regulation over an 18 month period reducing the school’s welfare risks and increasing its capacity to develop emotionally healthy pupils who are able to make wise, pro-social choices.

ONGOING RESEARCH
Human Ecology Education performs continuous trials to improve the reliability and accuracy of AS Tracking. Since its launch, client schools are invited to submit their data for ongoing research purposes, which are analysed to provide greater understanding of pupil self-regulation.

Dr Simon and Jo Walker have been invited to deliver workshops for the British Psychological Society on AS Tracking in April and October 2016. Details will shortly be available on the BPS web site.

 

 

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Why our current school curriculum won’t help pupils beat machines

 

By Dr Simon Walker, Mind. World Education, 15.9.2015

The robots are coming, says a new report by Deloitte, and many jobs currently performed by humans are under threat from robot takeover.

Wouldn’t it be logical, therefore, to educate our children in ways that given them unassailable advantages over robots?

Yes, but schools aren’t. In a recent large study we did, involving 8,000 pupils from some of the top independent and state secondary schools in the country, the highest performing schools were shown to be producing students who had the lowest ability to think differently from machines.

There is an increasing focus in the media on what has been dubbed by some ‘the new industrial revolution’. Like that of the 19th century, the chief consequence of such a revolution would be a dramatic change to the employment opportunities of millions of ordinary people: unlike the 19th century, it will not be blue collar workers affected this time, but white collar professionals.

The new industrial revolution is a result of machines learning to perform the kinds of cognitive tasks which were once thought to be the preserve of the human brain. Computer programmers have, for the past thirty years, used our increasing understanding of the neural flows of the mind to model and then build synthetic, machine systems which replicate the most powerful kind of processing of the brain: algorithmic processing.

Algorithmic processing is when the brain works through a series of step-by-step, logical decisions to get to the right answer for a complex problem. Scientists such as Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman, have identified that such brain processing is precise but slow. Using the same algorithmic programming procedures as the brain, machines can now reproduce similar or better levels of precision as the human brain, but do the calculation much faster.

Over the past few years, programmers have applied this algorithmic processing to an ever wider range of tasks: scanning emails to find cases of fraud; identifying our shopping patterns from our internet use; predicting how different groups in a society will react to events. Today, machines will make the 80 per cent of the trades that are made on the stock market.

It was once thought that professions such as the arts would be immune to such machine programming, but now computers have composed original classical music that can pass muster in formal performances, write acceptable journalistic pieces and even get close to simulating human responses in conversation.

The inherent vulnerability of all of these activities is when they rely too much on the algorithmic kind of cognition, which machines find easy to replicate.

Over the past 20 years, we at Mind. World Education have been searching for a kind of brain processing which machines will find difficult to replicate. Studies have revealed that the human brain has another, unique kind of processing, which we call ‘steering cognition’, which will prove to be much more difficult for machines to mimic.

Steering cognition, unlike algorithmic processing, is based around the brain’s ability to simulate possible actions before we do them, plot our options and then perform the optimal ones. It works by using our past experiences, both emotional, social and physical, as a guide before trying out different possibilities. Whenever we imagine and plan our holiday; or when work out how to get round the supermarket in the shortest route avoiding the longest cues at the checkout; or when we adapt our tone of voice in a conversation with a person we learn has been bereaved, we are using our steering cognition.

In a recent study involving 8,000 pupils at leading secondary schools, we discovered that, whilst the top performing schools were developing pupils’ algorithmic cognition, their students showed much weaker Steering cognition than pupils at less academically successful schools. In an effort to meet government and OFSTED targets, schools have developed ways of teaching which reduce the development of steering cognition in favour of algorithmic cognition.

We believe this is a recipe for short-term educational success but long-term employability weakness. White collar professions in the future will increasingly need graduates with unique abilities which cannot be done faster and cheaper by machines. Developing students with better steering cognition, to work alongside algorithmic cognition, will give our graduates the best chance of competing in the new industrial revolution.

This is a fully achievable goal, but it requires the government to shift from its over-focus on PISA-based performance, which has sought to compete with Asian models, focused almost exclusively on algorithmic cognitive development. The rest of the world can continue to educate children with cognitive skills that machines will one day replicate, but the UK could become the global leader in an education that won’t allow our children to be made redundant by machines.

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