Monday, August 14, 2023

Finding Focus

Poor Mental Focus: The Universal Problem:

My last article reviewed how the average person can understand the mechanics of assessment, plainly known as “testing” or even “cognitive tests”. Many brain boost companies claim both recent and historic cognitive findings, some cloudy, not accurately clarified. And, most digital learning applications do not generate sustained focus.

The internet is awash with brain and cognitive articles and podcasts with many view slants. My articles are rooted as a parent of three, classroom and learning disabilities teacher, data analyst, researcher, and artistic program designer applying puppetry. 

To stay abreast with current popular thought/mind processes, and to offer understanding and desire for mental/physical wellness, I am visible on social media.

With that said, this article is on how deep learning with fixed focus affects our lives and identities.

Identity Empowerment through Focal Strength

There are many types of over- layers of our focal identities: on the family, religious, work, school, social, and emotional event-spending. 

Yet, the most important one to consider:  How to take on new tasks and ignore distractions.

My former articles have discussed how visual and auditory memory integration becomes elusive with too much addictive screen time adherence. 

It will destroy visual and auditory integration (necessary for deep understanding/comprehension).

Once you completely “understand” a situation, and apply rationale, your stress level lowers.

But, instead, we react impulsively. We all “obey” our screens with compulsivity. Marketing strategies depend upon our compulsive natures that we will react instantly to their clever lures. Ads pop up continuously, diverting our thoughts and concentrated attention. 

We apply cell phone “Focus” settings to turn out the distractive onslaught of visual images. But, even then, we still do not focus on new learning tasks optimally.

Engulfed by distractions, we multi-task that further diverts the concentration at hand.

Creating Purposeful Goals to Sustain Focus

We may additionally have weak visual and auditory working memory to focus effectively. Thereby, we may not integrate properly for good reasoning capability. This soon unites with mental depression, ignited by constant screen adherence.

Furthermore, instead of creating a unique personal identity to formulate the joy of our own being, we spend excessive amounts for concert entertainment.

This brief surge of excitement does not compensate for our lack of mental focus, or a sense of purpose, we sorely need for today’s survival. Yet, we become addicted to this sketchy lifestyle expenditure pattern.

We Search for this Elusive, Desired, Focusing

A recent neuroscience article stated findings re visual stimuli and fighting distractions called “Beta Bursts,”and how they appear from sustained, continued focus. [1] 

Brain frontal cortex neurons create “Beta Bursts” through visual movement and fixed attention. To personally obtain a visual Beta Burst, you must forcibly be directed towards a goal, rather than distractions.  Brain neurons can be re-directed to an important task, but it does take an enormous amount of determined energy to do so.

Okay, how do we create these goals for fixed focal attention?

Solution: Daily, Progressive Procedural Learning.

But, which one? 

There are many brain development choices: stimulation devices, (but will not improve current cognitive levels), medical drugs, pills, various digital, brain programs, (few will improve the critically needed auditory sequencing capability), diets, all designed to reduce brain fog and create learning prowess.

But, these varying choices do not necessarily make you adept in following and retaining sequential, skill-set procedures, nor last.

My digital solution is a worthy consideration: The Bridge to Achievement has 42 years in published, juried, Beta research and development. [2]

1.       Musical, rhythmical, facial focus with chunking – visualization – pattern finding operations, is a good option to obtain fixed attention for deep learning,

2.       Consecutive, determined practice is the next requirement.

3.      The lessons must then build on each other in difficulty level with purpose. 

4.      Then, the learner should recognize their progressive improvement, and keep going.            

5.      Finally, the rhythmic, timed, visual and sound adherence will re-formulate one’s brain cognition and integration. Improvement is “not a quick fix”, but you can see improvement gradually, peaking in a year or two, if you are motivated, and determined, with a goal-set.

UTube: Jankuypererland1111

 Now, you can recognize and resolve your insidious mental focus limitations, so you can take action to alleviate stress, depression, and confusion.

[1]   Odorczyk, Kelsey. (August 11, 2023). Brain’s Traffic Directors: Neurons that Keep Us Focused on Tasks. Neuroscience News, University of Pennsylvania, School of Medicine.

 [2]  Erland, J. K. (© 2008). Downloadable, unpublished report. Five Generations, 27-years of iterative Brain-Based Accelerative Learning Experimentation Demonstrate Cognitive Skill Improvement Enhances Academic and Career Goals. (https://memspan/jalt).

Erland, J. K. (Fall 2000). Brain-Based Longitudinal Study Reveals Subsequent High Academic Achievement Gain for Low-Achieving, Low Cognitive Skills, Fourth Grade Students. Journal of Accelerated Learning and Teaching. 25, (3&4) pp. 5-48. ERIC ED # 453-553. & # CS 510 558. pages 41, 44

Erland J. K. (c 1989), Hierarchy of Thinking. Mem-ExSpan, Inc.Erland, J. K. (© 2008). Downloadable, unpublished report. Five Generations, 27-years of iterative Brain-Based Accelerative Learning Experimentation Demonstrate Cognitive Skill Improvement Enhances Academic and Career Goals. (https://memspan/jalt).

Erland J. K. (c 1989), Hierarchy of Thinking. Mem-ExSpan, Inc.


Saturday, July 15, 2023

Understanding Cognitive Skills Testing: What Is It? Why Have It Admin? & Where To Find It?"

 I am reprinting an earlier version, 2010 article of mine, regarding the value of cognitive skills, standardized, longitudinal testing, still applicable today. 

Later, interestingly, in 2014, the University of Pennsylvania's Brain Behavior Lab created a simple, normed test, computerized, self-administered in one hour, called Mindprint Learning. It gives a direction for personalized learning plans in 10 skill levels.

While helpful for parent/teacher/student planning, the Mindprint Learning self-awareness test, therefore, differs greatly from the rigorous pre-post-post standardized test batteries I discuss, and administered at 13 learning sites.

 I work from the Guilford Intellgence model for backbone theory,  with a reformulated, brief, puppetry playbook model on downloadable film.

Lesson 1 preview is now available on Utube under "Jan Kuyper Erland".    (paste link in your browser)

All of my lessons and content are original. The article goes well with my following July article on "Digital Transformation."


We can now all move forward to new learning and achievement heights, providing we understand how our own information processing works. Our reluctance to be the very best we can be, can now be left behind us. 

My work is based upon the premise that “intelligence” is trainable, and that skills, like reading, writing, mathematics and problem solving are dependent on cognitive information processing basic blocks called “primitives.”

Why understand what these blocks are? Because all work proficiency, including academic achievement, depends upon how our “mind works” operate. 

The renowned psychologist, J. P. Guilford, identified 150 cognitive skills cubes, called the Structure of Intellect theory (SOI), which has been used as a foundation and measurement of general intelligence for decades. (See footnote).

Why should we care? Because our future endeavors, how we cope with everyday life and our achievements/life styles will depend upon our information processing capabilities. 

It will become our lifetime path we lead, and how contented we will be with what we end up doing as a livelihood.

How do we find out what capabilities we have? It is through standardized cognitive skills testing and evaluations can show information processing strengths and weaknesses of the individual.

Why is testing and evaluation not routinely prescribed? Why do we not know about it? It is because testing can only be administered by highly trained, state certified, professionals at the masters/doctoral degreed levels. 

These people include psychologists, school psychologists, and learning disability specialists. 

Testing companies will not sell testing materials to anyone other than these highly qualified and trained professionals, who are trained to do measurement and evaluations.

Subsequently, the testing requires trained expertise, money, and takes time. One set of cognitive skills tests usually runs from $2,500. - $3,000. 

Therefore, parents often go to physicians or psychiatrists who can prescribe medication to calm the learner, which may appear to be a quick, inexpensive solution. 

Yet, this intervention is not low-cost, and can run $100. a month or more depending upon insurance coverage. And, prescribed medication can become habit-forming.

There is little, scientific knowledge, summarizing the life-long effects of any kind of stimulant medication on the brain and body that is used to increase focus and concentration needed for learning new material.

Cognitive skills training and cognitive skills assessment has been available for some time. In 1975, Guilford's student, Dr. Mary Meeker, formed the "Structure of Intellect" (SOI) Institute and trained educators how to measure cognitive skills according to task. 

She and her husband, Robert, designed tests and materials. The SOI Institute exists today (as of July 2023) with clinicians in every state that have been trained at their "Advanced Level" out of four levels of experienced practice and training. 

The program has focused on reading, math, and learning problems, early childhood weaknesses, Gifted instruction with remediating missing blocks, and career counseling.

Yet, cognitive skills measurement and standardized testing has not been mainstreamed for the average, yet ambitious person, due to training, time, professional qualifications, and cost constraints. 

Generally speaking, individuals needing remediation were tested either privately, in schools, clinics, or within learning institutions.

Subsequently, many who who were fortunate enough to obtain low-cost assessments and training, or at no cost through their school, later felt embarrassed that they might be considered as "inadequate or a slow learner." 

Yet, they could subsequently experience giant steps forward in perceiving and learning new information faster and reaching greater career heights. 

Now, this sense of "being singled out as imperfect or having a problem " is no longer the case, as we move forward with a new dimension of identifying learning skills strengths and weaknesses to create the high performing, confident individual. 

We must all excel. Tomorrow's world is demanding it of us.

How can I get started with solid, eye-opening measurement of my own or my children’s cognitive skills if it is expensive and time consuming? Is this beneficial, and worth the time and trouble?

Soon there will be available online options that will offer access to finding the right professional in your area, who will now charge less for solid evaluations. 

And, the online options will give you the information you need and want, and point you in the right direction for not only testing, measurement and evaluations, but for instructional, learning solutions.

My dream is that most of us will want optimum mental fitness in the future for our children and ourselves the same way we want physical fitness and personal well-being. 

It will be our choice to move forward to higher levels. We can be competitive in the new, global world.

Footnote: Guilford, J.P. (1967). The Nature of Human Intelligence. New York: McGraw-Hill. In Guilford's Structure of Intellect (SOI) theory, intelligence is viewed as comprising operations, contents, and products. 

There are 5 kinds of operations (cognition, memory, divergent production, convergent production, evaluation), 6 kinds of products (units, classes, relations, systems, transformations, and implications), and 5 kinds of contents (visual, auditory, symbolic, semantic, behavioral). 

Since each of these dimensions is independent, there are theoretically 150 different components of intelligence.

Sunday, July 2, 2023

A Case for Digital Transformation

Exploring Evidenced-Based-Data Results


Many products in development claim Evidence-Based-Data findings.

What is their data authenticity? What kind of testing, and by whom?

This article is in response to my previous “Proof is in the Pudding” discussion, where I self-monitored my internal responses in parallel to the participants’.

Subsequently, my former personal anecdotal review can be validated by lengthy clinical research findings.

Most product-building data collections, unfortunately, are heavily anecdotal, or computerized self-tests, rather than having rigorous scientific analyses.  

Participants can be assessed by informal tests in specific areas, by self or instructors.  Compilations then become compiled by doctoral, or representative students in labs, or by computerized selection formats.

The BTA has applied both types of assessment extensively, through 13 test sites with many 3rd party evaluators, testing companies, and institutions. 

The treatment outcomes included both criteria- referenced elements (continued to the present time), and highly recognized diagnostic standardized tests, monitored in depth by three independent testing companies, and five universities.

Although the confirmed results are precedingly dated, they remain substantive, as they were evaluated at so many assessment levels, with high level statisticians/evaluators, and circumstances.

Participant longitudinal data is hard to come by, as the learner often changes locations. Parochial schools are preferred, as students often move lock-step from grade- to- grade.

In the 2-Parochial school study, the goal was to determine if the results generalized to higher achievement scores. 

Out of 14 classrooms, only three adhered to implementation protocols and obtained results (two fourth grades and a 6
th grade).

These students, moved forward with new teachers, and were followed by assigned numbers for 2-4 years longitudinally, as long as they remained at the middle school level.

The implementation problem was embedded in the poor technical media applications available in 1996. 

Only three teachers could manage juggling video and audio tapes with an overhead projector, for 48 lessons on a daily basis. 

And, following heavy on-site teacher training, applying students’ handwriting on worksheets.

Surprisingly, these written worksheets, revealed important cognitive changes within the first 20 days.

Interestingly, the two schools with the 4th and 6th grades’ high results, elected to verify my outcomes with an independent testing company; Educational Testing Service (ETS) of Princeton, NJ.


The subsequent verification of my results indicated that I needed to wait for the right technology to emerge, even if it took a waiting time.

Broadband internet availability, with finding the right photographer/sound editor, who could incorporate the many embedded instructional layers into one brief, daily filming lesson, was crucial.

Then, hopefully, creating high fidelity, excellent phonological sound quality, with streamlined, engaging, and timing with puppetry.

Subsequently, I waited, and completed the problematic, on-going project’, now prepared for broader digital transformation.

Drahozal, E. (Vice President, Iowa Test of Basic Skills - ITBS testing service, personal communications, technical assistance, April 18, 1998, May 17, and May 27, 1999 and June 8, 1999). Ithaca, IL: Riverside Publishing Company.

Erland, J K. (c February 1986, 1989).  Contrapuntal Thinking and Definition of Sweeping Thoughts.  Lawrence, KS

Erland, J.  K.  (1994).  Analytical skills training through video-tape instruction develops higher-order thinking skills capability.  Journal of the Society for Accelerative Learning and Teaching, 19, (2), 155-227.

Erland, J . K. (1995).  Cognitive skills training improves listening and visual memory for academic and career success.  in ERIC Clearinghouse, Journal of Accelerative Learning and Teaching, 20, (1 & 2) 87-101.

Erland, J.  K.  (October 1997). Fitting into the high-performance workplace. The American Society For Training and Development. KC-ASTD’s VISION. p. 1

Erland, J.  K.  (Fall, 1998).  Cognitive skills and accelerated learning memory training using interactive media improves academic performance in reading and math.  Journal of Accelerative Learning and Teaching,23, (3 & 4), 3-57.

Erland, J. K.  (Spring, 1999).  High performance thinking counts.  Performance In Practice.  The American Society for Training and Development. and KC-ASTD’s VISION, February, 1999.

Erland, J.  K.  (Spring, 1999).  Brain-Based learning longitudinal study reveals solid academic achievement maintenance with Accelerated Learning practice.  Journal of Accelerative Learning and Teaching, 24, (1).

Erland, J. K. (Summer-Fall 2007). Five generations, 27-years of iterative experimentation demonstrates cognitive skill improvement enhances academic achievement and career goals.

Frisbie, D.  (Ed., ITBS, personal communication, technical assistance, June 10, 1998 and August 9, 1999). Iowa City, IA: Iowa Testing Service.

Hoover, H. D., Hieronymus, D. A. Frisbie, D. A., & Dunbar, S. B., (1993)  Iowa Tests of Basic Skills Content Classifications with Item Norms.  Complete/Core/Survey Batteries, Levels 5-14.  Form K.  Chicago, IL: The Riverside Publishing Company.

Riverside 2000. (1994). Iowa Tests of Basic Skills Integrated Assessment Program, Technical Summary I.   Chicago, IL: The Riverside Publishing Co.

Science Research Associates Standardized Achievement Testing (1985). Survey of Basic Skills. Chicago, IL: SRA.


Sunday, June 18, 2023

The Proof is in the Pudding

Carefully designed Cognitive Behavior Modification (CBM) (Meichenbaum, 1995,1977) techniques and strategies that included self-verbalization, mnemonic organization, modeling, and study skills still fell short of desired academic and career improvement, because some important foundation components were missing.

Many theoreticians, although looking at all the ramifications of the problem, were not focusing on an important issue; poor information processing capability, with deficient cognitive functions (J. P. Guilford,1967; Intelligence Theory, containing a 3-D Model of 128 various mental cubes).

Subsequently, we are each born with our own unique profile of underlying, high to low, information processing areas (Meeker, M. 1999; Gilford’s student), and distributed parallel processing, feedback loops (Erland, J. 1986, 1989), (Rumelhart and McClelland, 1986), which can dictate our daily endeavors.

Yet, alternative cognitve, intelligence theories address, and interface with 8 types of  experiential, personal, talent capabilities (Gardner, H. 2006). 

Unfortunately, many of us are not familiar with earlier, established scientific findings, and how they personally affect each one of us.

Severe deficiencies within multiple cognitive functions, may be termed learning disabilities, Dyslexia, or simply, under-functioning.

Weaker cognitive areas do not disappear with maturation or the passing of time, unless with an intervention.

Cognitive deficits may include inadequate visual and auditory sequential memory capability that ultimately interferes with the integration of information.

The information processing dilemma may be misdiagnosed and blamed on a poor attitude, lack of motivation, or Long-Term, latent Covid effects.

Many now suffer from memory fog created from lasting Covid. Subsequently, the inherent strong and weak cognitive areas may also be adversely affected.

Individuals possessing several of these problems, may develop some compensatory and coping skills.

Furthermore, cognitive and memory deficits carry within them a high degree of stress that can result in underachievement, or even chronic situational depression.

We may be told to try harder, or to seek help with counselors, or mental health and medical professionals. Sketchy prognoses can be made, pills prescribed, creating an unfortunate situation.

Subsequently, as disillusioned individuals, we do not achieve our maximum potential.

We find it difficult to enter the career fields of choice, or be able to compete and advance in our chosen fields.

Braced with indecision, we become embarrassed, or too proud, to consider we could be performing at much higher output levels.  

Let alone, be trained by rotating, cubistic faces.

Case in point: It was difficult for me to realize my own short-comings, as I had struggled since birth, compensating. I felt lagging, or “behind,” fast- paced classmates.

The puzzeling part was that I read like lightning, and was sent to upper grades for reading classes. I read classic literature by age 10.

In teaching my program, it was quite accidental that a personal, new revelation was realized. When studying memory and cognition theories, I understood that unfortunate hidden, gaps were within my own information processing system.

Technically, it was easy to identify my visual and auditory closure issues. What I saw and heard short-circuited, or was incomplete. 

Then, this deficit led to visual and auditory sequencing memory, not functioning optimally, as required for procedural learning.

Finally, a cascade of shortfalls creates poor memory integration needed for conceptualization.

Fortunately, and unexpectedly, I soon recognized increasing sharpness with my own verbal and written communications. I had gradually gained auditory and visual memory closure and transfer.

And, with great relief.

My original intention of applying a procedural system was to accelerate my own three children, plus strengthen my husband’s information processing capability, following a series of heart operations.

As I had worked for, the family all wound up excelling in their chosen, fields of endeavor. My spouse could now embark on a new career path.

Coincidingly, I internally followed my own internal mental progress, but self-help was not my intent.  

My daily puppetry, memory-span-drill workouts are now hinged with physical activity to create a whole-brain wellness regimen; without pills.

It is unusual that one affected with many cognitive shortcomings, would arrive with a solution. 

Nevertheless, I did through internal monitoring.

My only regret is that I did not have this surprising, sharpness benefit earlier, during my younger schooling days.



Erland, J  K. ( February c 1986, 1989).  Contrapuntal Thinking and Definition of Sweeping Thoughts.  Lawrence, KS

Erland, J .  K. (1995).  Cognitive skills training improves listening and visual memory for academic and career success.  in ERIC Clearinghouse, Journal of Accelerative Learning and Teaching, 20, (1 & 2) 87-101.

Gardner, H. (2006).  Multiple Intelligences:  New horizons, the development and education of the mind.  New York:  Basic Books.

Guilford, J. P.  (1967). The nature of human intelligenceNew York: McGraw Hill.

Guilford, J. P. (1984).  An odyssey of the SOI model: An autobiography of Dr. J. P. GuilfordTokyoJapan Head Office International Society For Intelligence Education.

Hessler, G.  (1982).  Use and interpretation of the Woodcock-Johnson psycho-educational battery.  Hingham, MA:  Teaching Resources.

Kess, J. F.  (1992).  Psycholinguistics:  Psychology, linguistics and the study of natural language.  Philadelphia:  J. Benjamin’s Publishing Co.

Meeker, M. N.  (1999) Structure of Intellect Systems. Teacher Training.  Vida, OR:  Structure of Intellect: Based on J. P. Guilford’s work.

Meichenbaum, D. (1991, 1977).  Cognitive behavior modification:  An integrative approach.  New York:  Plenum Press.

Mahoney, M., & Michenbaum, Donald. (1995). Cognitive and constructive psychotherapies : Theory, research, and practice. New York : Washington, DC: Springer ; American Psychological Association.

Rumelhart, D. E., McClelland, J. and the PDP Research Group.  (1986).  Parallel distributed processing:  Explorations in the micro structure of cognition.  Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.