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Polygence Scholar2023
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Joanne Roh

Class of 2025

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Projects

  • "Optimizing strategies to support neurodivergent students’ independent work abilities" with mentor Naomi (Sept. 24, 2023)

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Optimizing strategies to support neurodivergent students’ independent work abilities

Started May 25, 2023

Abstract or project description

Students with neurodivergence have a tendency to struggle with academics and independent work. For example, children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have been found to score lower on achievement tests (Frazier et al., 2007), while autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is associated with a lack of motivation in academic tasks (Koegel, Singh, & Koegel, 2010). This long-term difficulty with the academic environment has never been sufficiently addressed and accommodations are lacking. In this paper, I will analyze which strategies most effectively support neurodivergent students’ (specifically, those with ADHD and ASD) independent work abilities. The three techniques that will be reviewed are the Pomodoro technique, parallel working aka body doubling, and mindfulness. The Pomodoro technique is a method developed to improve time management by doing work in manageable intervals separated by short breaks (pioneered in the 1990s by Francesco Cirillo). Body doubling is a method of working in which two individuals work on the same task side by side (based on the discovery of mirror neurons by Di Pellegrino et al., 1992). Mindfulness is the practice of reflecting on oneself and can be practiced before work to improve productivity (popularized in the Western world by practitioners such as Deepak Chopra and Jon Kabat-Zinn). By reviewing and synthesizing existing research from the fields of psychology and neurobiology, this paper will analyze the strengths and weaknesses of these existing strategies to inform the best learning methodology for neurodivergent students. This research will support neurodivergent students in their academic endeavors by determining how and why these methods work for them.