Any teacher will know that each of their students learns differently. They also know that this difference has a huge connection to the processes that the brains use to learn. There are processes such as attention, speed, memory, visual and auditory learning, etc., that the brain uses. These along with other things enable each learner to receive information from the outside world, store it and retrieve it to create new things. This is what we call learning. And these processes are called cognitive skills.
Every learner possesses a unique cognitive profile, some strong and some weak. However, there is one set of three executive functions that are particularly significant here. They impact the directive capacities of our mind – inhibitory control, working memory, and cognitive flexibility. These are at the heart of emotional learning. These predict classroom behavior. These functions are essential to learning math and reading. They have a high correlation with academic success in general. They also correlate with income, health, and how our course of life will be.
A lot of psycho-social studies indicate three groups of students with highly pronounced academic achievement gaps. They are:
- Students from economically weak backgrounds.
- Students with learning disabilities.
- English language learners.
In the background of the pandemic, a lot of discussions have focused on access to technology, so is access to distance instruction. We have realized that a device and an instructor will not fetch any result when the capacity of many students to learn is inadequate.
For example, students with visual learning issues will have the same challenges on the screen as on the whiteboard at school. Those with poor attention and memory will receive only fragments of the learning experience. These students never have a chance to learn effectively because the processes required for them to learn are underdeveloped.
A solution to the problem of cognitive capacity would need us to do something our education system has been neglecting. We need to:
- Map each student’s cognitive abilities – both the strong and the weak ones.
- Remediate and strengthen these cognitive processes.
- Construct scientific learning environments to address the cognitive processes in learning.
The BBIT Approach
The Brain-Based Intelligence Test (BBIT) is developed in India by an elite team of Indian psychologists which measures two significant clusters of cognitive processes.
- Planning & executive functions
- Integration of information
On the whole, BBIT enables educators and curriculum developers to enhance the cognitive processes for a robust foundation in academic learning, especially in reading and math. Meanwhile, this test assists clinicians in the diagnosis of impairment of cortical functions as evident in conditions like stroke, epilepsy, and traumatic brain injury.
The BBIT approach reframes intelligence as an integration of biology and cognitive processes. Intelligence is sensitive to learning; the brain changes itself. This approach challenges the traditional view that IQ is fixed. This approach not only gives us insight into how intelligence works but also enables us to understand the inner workings of consciousness. The ultimate goal of intelligence is to form a better view of self that gives meaning to an individual’s existence.
BBIT measures multiple levels of intelligence across the spectrum from the intellectually challenged to the intellectually gifted. It is also a tool that can be used for the evaluation of reading and math abilities.
Cognitive Domains Measured by BBIT
Every cognitive component plays an important role in processing new information. If even one of these skills is weak, no matter the kind of information, the grasping, retaining, and using of that information is impacted. In fact, most learning challenges are caused by one or more weak cognitive skills.
The cognitive domains measured by BBIT are:
- Cognitive flexibility – evaluating cognitive abilities of the frontal lobe.
- Inhibition control – evaluating the ability of set-shifting, attention, and self-regulation.
- Working memory – evaluating working memory and attention span.
- Rapid automatic naming – evaluating the speed of processing.
- Complex problem solving – evaluating the ability to solve complex problems.
While we assert that cognitive processes are integral to the learning process, BBIT could help in strategizing and planning the development of executive functions like inhibitory control and working memory. Inhibitory control is what keeps a student from blurting out the first word that comes to mind while comprehending a text. Working memory is where we hold the information we are reading while we think about it, compare it with what we already know, and attribute meanings to it. These skills are significant across every aspect of learning.
If cognition is “the process of knowing,” then these are the skills that make it possible for us to know. They deal more with the mechanisms of “how we learn” rather than any actual knowledge.
How BBIT Helps
This ingenious IQ test is the brainchild of Dr. JP Das and was born out of humungous research activities spanned over two decades. It all started with Dr. Das identifying the need of practitioners for a test that can help them design interventions to:
- Improve a child’s learning
- Distinguish children with different conditions and abilities
- Accurately measure the abilities of children from diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds.
BBIT helps psychologists and clinicians to make recommendations that will benefit a child the most. It instructs educators to assess patterns of performance on the test. It also helps to obtain clinical observations of the child during the testing session.
While BBIT is a test of intelligence, it can also be used as a school readiness test. Through this test, the literacy of the test subject is no longer an obstacle to detecting the intelligence ability.
This is an opportunity to find solutions to the stark inequities in education and refocus on learning. This translates to giving each student access to the resources they need to learn and grow. The time has come to support all learners develop the cognitive skills that will foster greater equity in learning and achieve a better quality of life.