Brain Injuries in a Student Population: More Common Than You’d Think

This semester, the Marshall University Communication Disorders program welcomed a new teacher and SLP to the faculty: Carrie Childers. Between the constant challenge of juggling clinical responsibilities and teaching courses, Professor Childers (or should we say Soon-to-be-Dr. Childers?) is also working tirelessly on her dissertation. With an interested in traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), Professor Childers has been researching the effects of brain injuries in a student population as well as the effectiveness of different note-taking techniques for people with brain injuries. Examining this population is critical for the future of our educational system because undetected and untreated brain injuries in student populations can lead to academic struggles, difficulty in social situations, a decreased involvement in extracurricular activity and poor college outcomes.

The key focus of this study is grounded in the effectiveness of note-taking methods in secondary-school students diagnosed with a brain injury. Prior studies suggest that healthy students record less than half of the critical information presented in class. Common note-taking methods include self-notes (a process in which each student is responsible for his or her own notes), peer notes (a process in which students exchange notes with each other) and no notes (a process in which no notes are taken – allowing the student to focus entirely on listening). In turn, the purpose of this study is to examine the effectiveness of these three note-taking methods by exploring quiz scores and conducting interviews with the subjects.

For her research, Professor Childers was able to find three undergraduate college students diagnosed with a brain injury to participate – two females and one male. These three participants satisfied all criteria established: a history of brain injury with no other learning disorder, a successful screening of vision and hearing and a passing grade on a pre-test. Once the participants were acquired, they were required to attend 3 sessions (each session contained 3 different anatomy-based lectures). The participants used one of each note-taking technique per lecture and took quizzes after the lectures.

Following the experiment, interviews were conducted with 2 of the participants due to the third participant dropping out of the study. Both remaining participants noted that self-notes and peer notes were the most helpful while no note taking required more effort and was the least effective. The bottom line, however, suggests that note-taking is highly individualized. If a teacher wishes to provide peer notes to a student with a brain injury, it’s important that the student is able to read the peer’s notes and understand everything.

From here, Professor Childers wishes to examine school-aged children and the effectiveness of note-taking in that population. She always wishes to research and implement life, advocacy and academic skills in brain injury student populations. With her dissertation in November rapidly approaching, Professor Childers is working hard to perfect the dissemination of her research. We wish her luck during this stressful and incredibly busy time! As always, thanks for reading.