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Processing Speed - 7 Powerful Strategies for Student Success

Dear Friends: This is my second post on processing speed. Last week, I addressed the definition, causes, assessment options, and revealed 5 ways that a slow processing speed can impact learning. This week, I will discuss 7 power strategies for student success as well as reasonable accommodations in the classroom.
slow processing speed strategies
A Quick Review:
  • Processing Speed: The speed at which one makes sense of incoming information from the senses and then generates a response.
  • Tests such as the WISC intelligence test and the Woodcock-Johnson IV Test of Cognitive Ability and Test of Oral Language offer subtests that assess some types of processing speed.
  • A slow processing speed can be caused by any of the following: difficulties receiving and perceiving information through the senses, problems making sense of that information in the brain, and/or challenges producing a response or action.
  • A slow processing speed can impact the understanding of oral and written concepts, note taking skills, homework completion, test-taking skills, reasoning with information, and completing classroom assignments in a timely fashion.
How Can Processing Speed be Increased for Struggling Learners?
  • Help students to learn memory strategies so that they can secure learning and access information from their memory banks at a faster pace.
  • Play games that require players to work quickly in a time limit. Here are a few of my personal favorites.
  • Use online test preparation sites like Quizlet that can help students practice the content so that the brain develops the myelin sheath needed to transmit information along the nerves. Quizlet even offers a few game-like activities (Gravity and Match) where students can try to improve their speed of processing with the information they are learning.
  • Use a metronome or play upbeat music. A metronome is a device that produces a beat, a click, or other sound at regular and consistent intervals. Slow beats can be calming, and a fast beat can increase processing speed and energy level. The trick is to use a metronome that allows a student to pick their own speed and sound preferences. If you are trying to increase processing speed, then the metronome can be increased slowly over time. To learn more about this as well as online metronome options CLICK HERE.
  • Use a timer. A timer can be used to motivate some learners to stay on task and increase speed of processing. What’s more, if a student enjoys competing against themselves, then tasks can be broken into chunks and students can try to improve their speed of completion for each chunk.
  • Teach students efficient ways of completing tasks. Switching back and forth between assignments, for example, is a very inefficient way to complete homework. Instead, one can teach students the benefits of maintaining their attention on a single task until it is finished.
  • Help learners manage distractions that pull their attention away from their work. For example, pings from social media, bleeps from a mobile phone or background noise from a TV or computer device can distract attention and slow processing speed. Therefore, helping students to create distraction-free environments can help them to focus their attention and improve processing speed so that they can get through assignments at a faster pace while improving their learning capacity.
Reasonable Accommodations for Students with Processing Speed Deficits
When processing speed is documented to be a significant deficit and it impacts a student’s academic achievement, students can get reasonable accommodations as defined in an IEP or 504 plan. The following are a list of possibilities:
  • Provide extended time for tests and assignments. 
  • Offer instruction at a slower pace and check for understanding. 
  • Provide a copy of the teacher’s notes. 
  • Give fewer homework problems. 
  • Allow extended time on standardized tests such as the ACTs and SATs. 
  • Help the student to use assistive technology such as voice to text, text to voice, and organizational apps such as Google Keep and Inspiration
  • Monitor the students planning, time management and organizational skills. 
I hope you found this helpful.

Cheers, Dr. Erica Warren
Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator, and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning and Dyslexia Materials. She is also the director of Learning to Learn and Learning Specialist Courses.

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