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As we discussed in our previous blog, Cognitive Functions Explained: Our Brain is Our Most Valuable Asset, we all have unique cognitive profiles that fundamentally shape our lives and how we learn. 

When we personally feel that we are lacking something or our child is struggling in school, it’s only natural that we would seek solutions that help us to resolve these challenges. In this scenario, in the majority of cases, people typically turn to traditional education assessments and psychoeducational assessments. 

However, while these assessments may provide a diagnostic label and then help us work around the challenges being faced, they don’t directly identify the underlying root cause of the difficulty, nor provide a solution that tackles the difficulty head on.

In this blog, we’re going to take a look at what traditional psychoeducational and educational assessments are, and how they compare to cognitive assessments from Arrowsmith.

If you would like to explore the concept we discuss in this blog in more depth, please download the fifth webinar of our five part series - The User’s Guide To Our Brain.

Watch the Webinar - The Users Guide to Your Brain Cognitive Assessments

What are traditional educational assessments? 

Essentially, educational assessments are diagnostic tools designed to identify the difficulties a student has in their academic program and, in some cases, their daily living skills. In turn, recommendations are made for appropriate accommodations or modifications within a school system to help address common learning challenges. These assessments are used in a range of settings and age groups, from elementary and secondary schools, to the accessibility services department at post-secondary programs. 

Assessments come in many different forms. The most commonly used in the school setting is the psychoeducational assessment, which is designed to measure overall aptitude so that recommendations can be made to support an individual in school, therapy and outside the classroom.

Typically this type of assessment results in defining an individual's learning challenges in the form of a diagnosis - such as dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyscalculia, ADHD,or non-verbal learning disability. The most common reason for these diagnoses to be sought is because school systems are mandated to provide support for children with these diagnoses. These diagnoses also help secure funding for the school to offer the support. 

These traditional assessments are diagnostic tools that use broad measures of intellect and academic skills. The assessor uses the results to make recommendations to change the external circumstances of the learner, such as modifying the content or means of delivery, in an effort to improve performance - but not to change the learner themselves. 

While traditional assessments and diagnoses can be necessary tools for anyone in a school system who is struggling - and it’s vital that schools provide support and recognition for those needs - it can also lead to potential risks, such as:

  • A focus on the diagnosis and not the person
  • Self-fulfilling prophecies and stigmatization
  • Diagnostic labels may mislead understanding of the root cause
  • Limiting access to curriculum

Why an Arrowsmith Cognitive Assessment is more effective

There is deep value in starting with the foundation of ‘why’. Understanding our cognitive profile can help us identify why we prefer certain tasks over others, why we find some things easy and others a challenge, and why our children experience their own challenges and successes within learning. 

Understanding the ‘why’ gives us a blueprint for learning and a baseline of who we are. It identifies our cognitive functioning, explaining why we do what we do. And it is critical in order to address and overcome a learning difficulty to know where to start - with the underperforming cognitive function. 

So how do we begin to strengthen our cognitive functions? Once the underlying source of the learning difficulty is identified - the ‘why’ - neuroplasticity is leveraged to address the root cause of the learning problem - strengthen the cognitive functions that are weak. Through neuroplastic programming, we are able to address underlying challenges and change our cognitive profiles - enhancing our personal and professional lives, providing schools with a way to enhance their students’ learning capacities. .

To enhance our cognitive abilities through neuroplasticity, it’s crucial to understand our unique cognitive profiles and the impact they have on our learning abilities. 

That’s why Arrowsmith has developed a unique Cognitive Assessment that goes beyond or underneath the label that a traditional psycho-educational assessment is typically looking for. An Arrowsmith Cognitive Assessment is very different to traditional assessments in its design, results and in its application. 

Learn About the Arrowsmith Cognitive Assessment

The purpose of the Arrowsmith Cognitive Assessment is to measure the functioning of very specific cognitive functions. The Arrowsmith Cognitive Assessment was born out of seminal neuroscience research and focuses on a range of different cognitive functions:

  • Motor symbol sequencing
  • Symbol recognition
  • Symbol relations
  • Lexical memory
  • Spatial reasoning
  • Memory for information
  • Kinesthetic perception
  • Mechanical reasoning
  • Predicative speech
  • Kinesthetic speech
  • Abstract reasoning
  • Broca’s speech pronunciation
  • Non-verbal thinking
  • Primary motor
  • Auditory speech discrimination
  • Narrow visual span
  • Quantification sense>
  • Symbolic thinking
  • Object recognition

All of these cognitive functions shape our learning, behaviour, performance and even self-concept. Learning is grounded in these cognitive functions, which all operate in concert together. 

Through the Cognitive Assessment, Arrowsmith is able to isolate each cognitive function and measure how they are operating. We then use that information to build a unique cognitive profile based on a person’s cognitive weaknesses and cognitive strengths. 

There are three distinct stages of an Arrowsmith Cognitive Assessment. 

Step 1 - Completing the Arrowsmith Cognitive Assessment with a trained Arrowsmith professional.

Step 2 - Understanding your unique cognitive profile to provide insight, understanding and compassion through the Individual Learning Profile report. 

Step 3 - Prioritize aspects of your, or your child's profile that can be enhanced and strengthened through neuroplastic programming. By precisely measuring one’s cognitive profile, Arrowsmith is then able to provide a customized program of exercises that transform one’s learning experience forever - that enhances cognitive weaknesses and improves the brain’s ability to learn and perform tasks over time.

We use the power of neuroplasticity so that we don’t have to change the curriculum or the expectations, we can instead change the learner and their cognitive ability. 

Are you interested in learning more about the benefits of an Arrowsmith Cognitive Assessment? Learn more about how it works here.



Tara Bonner
Post by Tara Bonner
January 31, 2023
Tara Bonner collaborates with professionals and educators worldwide, envisioning the convergence of learning and neuroscience. Tara has witnessed that cognitive programming can be a transformative force not just for struggling learners, but for all seeking to experience learning with ease and joy. She's honored to be part of these discussions and an organization that's revolutionizing education by putting the "Brain in Education."