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Do you know that slow processing speed can have a significant impact on academic performance? Learn how slow processing speed affects learning in students.

Signs of Slow Processing Speed

We live in a fast-paced world. Your students need to be able to process a large amount of information quickly and shift back and forth between a variety of tasks to be successful in the classroom. But what about the students who can’t process information quickly? Do the following student scenarios seem familiar?Bobby didn’t have time to write down his assignment when the class was over, so he missed valuable information because he didn’t want to get in trouble for being late for his next class. When Mary didn’t finish her homework, she had to complete it at home, along with the rest of her work.

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Johnny studied for his math test, but he only answered half the questions. What do these three students have in common? These students all have slow processing speed.Students with slow processing speed take in visual or auditory information, make sense of it and respond to it at a slower pace. In other words, it takes their brain more time and effort than other students to complete tasks.

Intelligence is not linked to slow processing speed. For instance, two students might be able to spell the same word correctly, but it will take the student with slow processing speed longer to spell it out. Simply put, slow processing speed affects the amount of time it takes to learn, not the capacity to learn.

How Slow Processing Affects Learning

Processing speed can be a real issue in your classroom because it can be misconstrued as laziness or disinterest. The negative impact of slow processing can be categorized into three functional areas: academic, social and self-esteem.

Let’s explore.

Academic Effects

Processing skills are essential to most learning activities, especially those involved in basic skills subjects such as reading, writing and math. Students with slow processing may have difficulty:

  • Performing basic math computation
  • Reading fluently and understanding words and text
  • Completing handwriting tasks, such as copying from the blackboard or a text
  • Completing tasks in the correct order
  • Completing classwork
  • Initiating and finishing homework assignments
  • Learning new routines
  • Completing timed tests
  • Copying words or sentences correctly or formulating and writing passages

Social Effects

Students with slow processing may experience:

  • Difficulty keeping up with regular conversations with peers, teachers or other adults
  • The appearance of not being interested or ‘not with it’ and potentially being ridiculed or excluded from activities
  • Social awkwardness because they are slow to respond and unable to think on their feet

Self-Esteem Effects

  • Many students with slow processing speed might feel that they are stupid because they are aware that they can’t keep up.

  • They feel self-consciousness and could be at risk for depression.
  • They might drop out of school, since they feel they cannot keep up with their classmates academically.
  • They experience frustration because, even though they know how to do their assignments, they just can’t ‘get it out’ in time.

Lesson Summary

In this lesson, you learned that level of intelligence has nothing to do with slow processing speed. Even though students with slow processing speed might understand concepts, they have difficulty in the classroom because they take in visual or auditory information and respond at a slower pace.

You also learned that slow processing speed affects learning in three functional areas: academic, social and self-esteem.

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