Wired for Learning: Supporting Thinking Skills in the K-2 Classroom (2018-2019)


Wired for Learning is a project designed to support young children in kindergarten through second grade who are at risk of falling behind or struggling academically in school. The premise is to target the development of those thinking skills and dispositions that are known to enhance student success in school while also enhancing educators’ understanding of brain science and the relationship to teaching and learning.

Project Description

This Bass Connections project involves professional development for teachers, field-testing of a thinking skills curriculum, parent programming and the collection of data to evaluate program impact on both K-2 students and their teachers.

Specifically, the project team will develop and field-test a K-2 curriculum that intentionally integrates those learning dispositions and thinking skills that have proven to be critical to the cognitive development and academic success of young students. The team will provide professional development and support for teachers on thinking skills, learning dispositions and brain science as they relate to K-2 learning and development.

Team members will also design and deliver parent workshops on at-home methods for helping their children be successful in school, and conduct research on program effectiveness in supporting future academic success of participating children and in enhancing teaching practices over time. Finally, the team will disseminate results on impact and advocate for comprehensive K-2 nurturing programs that address thinking skills, dispositions for learning and brain science.

Anticipated Outcomes

Advocacy publication (white paper) with analysis of project data; data to inform future research and support grant proposals


Fall 2018 – Spring 2019  

  • Fall 2018: Team-building; reading and research, guest speakers, classroom visits, focus groups with K-2 teachers; plan of action detailing major tasks, responsibilities and target completion dates
  • Spring 2019: Continued reading and research, guest speakers, secondary data analysis, observation protocol training, classroom visits, focus groups with teachers and parents, preliminary primary source data collection and analysis; professional development for K-2 teachers, parent education sessions, final analysis of primary source data collection; designing of deliverables that communicate project outcomes

Team Outcomes

Wired for Learning: Supporting Thinking Skills in the K-2 Classroom (poster by M. Apsel, C. Cooke, A. Dombrovskya, K. Heaton, C. Henderson, N. Liang, K. Locklear, R. Sanders, R. Reed, N. Shoichet, M. Gayle, A. Griffith, C. Horstman, K. Stephens, D. Turner, presented at EHDx, Duke University, April 9, 2019 and at Bass Connections Showcase, Duke University, April 17, 2019)

Wired for Learning (talk by Caleb Cooke and Karina Heaton, EHDx, Duke University, April 9, 2019)

This Team in the News

Meet the Members of the 2018-19 Student Advisory Council

Students doing a hands-on activity

Team Leaders

  • Margaret Gayle, Social Science Research Institute; American Association for Gifted Children
  • Kristen Stephens, Arts & Sciences-Program in Education
  • Daniel Turner, Social Science Research Institute

/graduate Team Members

  • Celli Horstman, Masters of Public Policy

/undergraduate Team Members

  • Molly Apsel, Interdepartmental Major
  • Caleb Cooke
  • Anna Dombrovskaya, Philosophy (AB)
  • Karina Heaton, Psychology (BS)
  • Connor Henderson, Public Policy Studies (AB), Asian & Mid East Studies (AB2)
  • Nathan Liang, Psychology (BS), Neuroscience (BS2)
  • Kya Locklear, Biology (BS)
  • Raisa Reed, Psychology (AB)
  • Reagan Sanders
  • Nicole Shoichet, Public Policy Studies (AB)

/yfaculty/staff Team Members

  • Alissa Griffith, Arts & Sciences-Program in Education

/zcommunity Team Members

  • Kim Marion, Durham Public Schools
  • Laura Parrott, Durham Public Schools