INCREASING SUCCESS IN SCHOOL THROUGH PRIMING
Research has shown that for some students a method that could be more beneficial is to provide information that is to be presented in the near future rather than continually focusing on what has already been presented. Some students may engage in behaviours to escape or avoid due to the anxiety they experience when faced with new material. The important feature of priming is to target pivotal behaviours such as motivation, interest and attention.
Koegal et al. (1997) defines priming as an intervention which previews material or activities that a child is likely to have difficulties with. The goal of priming is to increase the child’s competence in a given learning field before inappropriate behaviour can surface. Material is presented as closely as possible to the way it will be presented the following day. The child is then prompted to respond to questions or evoke responses that they have already been prepared for.
Specific session lengths have not currently been assessed systematically but short, meaningful sessions tend to be more effective than lengthy sessions. The more pleasant the experience the more likely it is that the child will retain the information and be motivated to continue the learning. When the information is more challenging for the individual, specific sections should be targeted in order to prevent anxiety from escalating. If the child has difficulty with complex sentences or words the point than is to familiarize the student with words or names that they can easily recall and prompt them the following day for that information. The child can then experience success without having to fully comprehend all the information being presented. Priming becomes about participation in learning not getting “it right”.
There are four general steps used in the priming program:
1. Collaboration – Who will be responsible giving assignments to primer? Conducting the sessions?
2. Communication – How often? Where will the materials be left? Where will the materials be returned?
3. Priming – Place, Time, Duration, Mood
4. Feedback – Is priming working? From teachers, parents, child’s perspective
The main component of the priming method is to understand that it is not necessarily about teaching the new information but the importance is to introduce new material. The child does not need to grasp the entire concept of what is being presented. Priming is about involving the child in positive interactions around their learning to hopefully encourage motivation for further learning experiences.
When to do the priming may cause some concern. Certain information can be delivered just hours before they need to utilize it but other time priming may have to occur the night before. Setting up a specific routine initially may help to alleviate some of the confusion around when priming should occur.