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Research on Learning

The activities used at Harp Learning Institute are based on sound research on learning. We pride ourself on using a scientific, step-by-step program that helps children overcome learning disabilities like autism, dyslexia, and ADD/ADHD.

This program is called the Harp Learning System, and it is copyrighted in the Library of Congress.

Hands-On Field Practices

In addition, the practices used at the Harp Learning Institute learning center(s) are based on Lisa Harp’s hands-on field practices. Her original research on learning began in 1998.

Harp Learning Institute continues to strive for better techniques and learning research to help children overcome learning problems.

Harp Learning Institute reveals the research on learning and how they apply the kinesiology exercises.

Educational Kinesiology

Morris, GS, Sifft, JM, Khalsa, GK
California State Polytechnic University, Paloma August 1988

Effects of Educational Kinesiology on static balance of learning disabled students. Educational Kinesiology is a movement-based program designed to enhance academic performance and may also influence performance of motor skills. A study was conducted to determine whether Educational Kinesiology techniques affected the static balance of 60 learning disabled students. 


The group receiving Educational Kinesiology improved more than the control group or the group receiving only basic movement activities. Harp Learning Institute uses similar techniques that affect research in learning. This helps students who are struggling to learn.

Also, students participate in cross lateral movements using their arms and legs while using specified eye placement. At the same time, they engage in activities designed to increase visual and auditory processing skills.

Find out about research on learning that's used at Harp Learning Institute in Lodi, California.

Motor Skills:

Motor Skills and ADHD, University of Maryland, 2009

Gross and fine motor delays are commonly seen complications accompanying ADHD. Gross motor skills involve large muscle movements. These movements are used in things like running and climbing. Fine motor skills, however, involve the finger, the hands, and the wrist, like putting a puzzle together.

A study published in the May 18, 2009 issue of “Behavioral and Brain Function” found that 80 to 96 percent of ADHD boys showed moderate to severe problems with motor skills compared to the control group of non-ADHD boys.

Handwriting was specifically noted as a problem. These students were also noted to be clumsy when running or skipping. They also demonstrated increased muscle tone, jerky movements, and difficulty with both balance and stability. 

The motor problems observed did not appear to be due to inattention or impulsiveness. 


ADD and ADHD are often symptoms of another learning issue or coincide with other learning issues.

Because of this, gross motor skills training is imperative to help students with ADD/ADHD succeed in not only school but in life.

Harp Learning Institute institutes gross motor skills that are imperative to learning success. Students become balanced and confident through the combination of gross motor, cognitive, and cross lateral motion activities. It isn’t only students with ADD/ADHD who benefit from motor skills training. All students who are struggling to learn benefit from making sure this basic skill to learning is in place. 

According to this research study the more you see and hear pure movement, the deeper it becomes imprinted in your nervous system and the more likely you are to perform it as a conditioned reflex. 


Once students have imprinted the task in their nervous systems, the conditioned reflex can affect academics by being routine and not a conscious effort.

This additionally leaves space for higher level skills to use the conscious effort instead of the student focusing on the pure movement only. At Harp Learning Institute, students begin with pure movement. Simple exercises are performed and then, with success, other activities are added, specifically using movement in conjunction with cognitive skills. 

For instance, students jump on a mini-trampoline while citing directions and colors of arrows on the wall. Students also might recite multiplication facts as while catching a ball. The brain is busy thinking while the body is busy moving.

Consequently, This prepares the student for multi-step thinking in later years, such as needed in Algebra or reading multi-syllabic words. 

Motor skills research on learning is instrumental in helping kids overcome learning disabilities.

Neuropsychological Theory of Motor Learning:

Willmingham, Daniel B.

This research study by Willingham notes that learning grows directly out of motor control processes. Three motor control processes may be turned to specific tasks, thereby improving performance. These motor control processes are: 

1. selecting spatial targets for movement

2. sequencing these targets

3. transforming them into muscle commands


When motor control processes become automatic, space is created for the student to learn higher level skills. Moreover, this becomes easier because the lower level skills are no longer a conscious effort.

Students at Harp Learning Institute select spatial targets in conjunction with movement. For example, in order to access the visual memory portion of the brain, students look up and to the right. In addition, they do this while performing cross-lateral activities. 

This helps build neural pathways in the brain as well as enhance body/brain connections. 

Sequencing of targets is crucial for later academic success. Early on at Harp Learning Institute, students sequence body movements with cognitive or sensory building movements. 

For instance, students stand on a balance board while moving a ball on a plate in numerical order from 1 to 1. This sets the stage for later academic development.

Once the information is set into muscle memory, students command their bodies and brains to perform a skill. Due to these muscle commands, the body and brain work in conjunction to perform skills that are precursors to academic success.

Discover auditory research on learning that's used at Harp Learning Institute.

Visual Processing:

Stein JF, Richardson AJ, Fowler MS, Brain, 2000 Jan: 123

University Laboratory of Physiology, Department of Orthoptics, Royal Berkshire Hospital Reading, UK

Poor control of eye movement may lead to unstable binocular fixation and hence, unsteady vision. This could explain why many dyslexics report that letters appear to move around, causing visual confusion. 

Binocular control and reading progress was assessed with students with initial unstable binocular control after the left eye was patched. These students were followed for 9 months. 


Significantly more of the children who were given occlusion gained stable binocular fixation in the first three months. 59% compared with children not being occluded, which was 36%. 

These children were also more likely to have improved their reading abilities. The occluded students improved their reading scores by 9.4 months in the first three months. This compared with 3.9 months in those who were not patched.

Students attending sessions at Harp Learning Institute routinely perform eye movement and eye tracking activities. In addition, these students will receive eye patching (occluding) in not just the left eye, but both. This is a major contributing factor to increasing reading scores as well as other academic success. 

Visual Processing:

King, Ethel M.

Journal of Educational Psychology

December 1964

Effects of different kinds of visual discrimination training on learning to read words

The study compared 6 groups of 23 kindergarten children. These children were learning to read 4 words following different kinds of visual discrimination training. 

Each group was designated by the method of presentation and type of stimuli used in training. 5 groups were trained with successive presentations and 1 group with simultaneous presentations. 

The types of stimuli used for discrimination training included different words from the reading task, different meaningful words (presentation of visual form, sound, and picture), same words as reading task, same letters which were constituents of reading words, and geometric forms for the control group. 


Significant group differences in reading performance were found in groups trained in matching different meaningful words and the same letters. 

At Harp Learning Institute, students receive visual discrimination training in various manners. This research on learning coincides with research done at Harp Learning Institute. Our program is rich in visual processing skills.

Moreover, some of the visual skills we stress are: visual discrimination activities, but visual closure, visual memory, and visual motor integration.

These activities all help students recognize and manipulate written information that translates to reading, writing, math, and spelling achievement.

Research on learning is important for helping kids overcome learning disabilities.

Auditory Processing:

Nicole M. Russ, Trent G. Nicol, Steven G. Zecker, Erin A. Hayes, Nina Kraus

Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory

Northwestern University, Evanston, IL June 2004

The auditory brainstem response reflects neural encoding of the acoustic characteristics of speech syllables with remarkable precision.

Some children with learning impairments demonstrate abnormalities in this preconscious measure of neural encoding, especially in background noise. 

This study investigated whether auditory training targeted to remediate perceptually-based learning problems would alter the neural brainstem encoding of the acoustic sound structure of speech n such children.


Auditory training can alter the preconscious neural encoding of complex sounds by improving neural synchrony in the auditory brainstem.

Children with auditory processing disorders struggle to recognize subtle differences between sounds in words. For instance, the request, “Tell me how a fish and a cat are alike,” may sound to a child with an auditory processing disorder like, “Tell me how a dish and a can are alike.” 

Students attending Harp Learning Institute receive auditory training each time they attend a session.

We start with basic auditory discrimination and auditory closure to remediate the student’s inability to process auditory information correctly.

At Harp Learning Institute, we understand the hierarchy of learning. Because of this, we have students practice small manipulating small units of sound before moving on to larger units. From there, we have kids move on to words and then sentences. As the students make progress in this area, not only academics improve but behavior (due to frustration) and communication skills improve. This makes for a happier student. 

The Journal Science

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2011

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have found that people with dyslexia have more trouble recognizing voices than those without dyslexia.

This problem is critical for dyslexic students who are trying to read. They need to have the ability to make connections with units of sound that make up words. From there, it’s important to blend the sounds together into meaning. If a child has trouble grasping the sounds that make up language, acquiring reading skills will be more difficult. 


Students must be able to recognize bits of auditory information and process it correctly. This is how they form the connection between written information and sounds that go with written information.

At Harp Learning Institute students receive auditory processing skills. Initially, students start slowly with small units of sound. Demand increases gradually to increase auditory processing skills.

We use nonsense sounds as well as familiar sounds and words for reading instruction. This prevents the student from guessing at words. In addition, the student cannot rely on meaning to manipulate sounds in the brain.

Students actually learn to process auditory information correctly. From there, they relate it correctly to the written word, whether they have dyslexia or another form of learning disability.

Harp Learning Institute shares the research in learning that materials and exercises are based on.


Alexandra Morrison, Jason Chein November 2010

These individual studies involved using working memory training as a tool for cognitive enhancement. 


Working memory “training” forms effective cognitive enhancement.

At Harp Learning Institute students start with basic visual recall activities. These exercises fill in gaps in their memory foundation. Demand increases slowly. From there, students advance to more difficult visual and auditory memory skills.

In addition, students at the highest level of the program not only retain visual and auditory memory information. Students also learn to manipulate it as well, which contributes to a more efficient working memory. 

Discover and learn about research in learning that Harp Learning Institute uses.

Memory Enhancement in Language Pedagogy: Implications from Cognitive Research: 

Farzad Sharifian, PhD

Edith Cowan University, Mt Lawley, WA, Australia

This paper reviews a number of sub-paradigms in cognitive research on memory enhancement. It explores some insights that they may have for theory and practice in English language teaching. 

Moreover, the research reviewed in this paper has made rigorous attempts to discover perceptual and processing strategies that may enhance retention of information in human cognitive storage. 


Researchers found that generation of stimuli by learners, rather than simple reading, enhances retention. In addition, a major trend arose from a number of these studies. Researchers discovered that an increase in cognitive effort may lead to better memory. 

Consequently, students at Harp Learning Institute practice memory building activities as well as cognitive skills. These exercises work together to help enhance retention of learning.

Discover the research on learning that Harp Learning Institute has used.

Phonemic Awareness:

Ball W, Blackman B.

The effects of training in phonemic segmentation and of instruction in letter names and letter sounds on kindergarten children’s reading and spelling skills.


Phonemic awareness instruction, combined with instruction connecting the phonemic segments to alphabet letters, significantly improved the early reading and spelling skills of the children in the phonemic awareness group. 

However, instruction in letter names and letters sounds alone did not significantly improve the segmentation skills. The early reading skills, or the spelling skill of the students. Harp Learning Institute uses an intense phonemic awareness program that is sequential as well as multi-sensory.

First, students begin by combining two sounds. Eventually, they build up to multi-syllabic words while touching, seeing, and saying the sound or word combinations. 

Hence, this process is used in conjunction with key motor, cognitive, memory, auditory, and visual building activities. This helps students of any age build reading and spelling skills.