Research-Basis of SOAR®

The SOAR® curriculum is rooted in years of research on brain-based learning and best practices in education. The following information is organized to match the sections of the SOAR® program and details the educational research that supports each section…

SOAR® Section 1 – How Are You Smart?

Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences1

This theory establishes the premise that all students have talents, even if they have not historically experienced success in school. SOAR® dedicates a whole section to helping students explore their intelligences and develop personal confidence.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder2,3

People with ADHD are usually highly intelligent, but struggle with conventional learning and organizing tasks. SOAR® provides student-friendly strategies that are good for all learners, but especially helpful for students struggling with ADHD. Research by the U.S. Department of Education on “best-practices” for educating students with ADHD support the strategies in SOAR®.

SOAR® Section 2 – Set Goals

Chapter 2 – Establish Your Priorities
Chapter 3 – Identify Your Goals

Chapter 4 – Schedule Time to Take Action

Harvard & Dominican University of California4

Many people have heard of the “Yale” and “Harvard” studies that claim people who wrote down their goals made 10x more money than those who did not have written goals. These studies -wildly popular before the internet – have turned out to be urban myths. However, Dr. Steven Kraus (Harvard Social Psychologist) and Dr. Gail Matthews (Psychologist from Dominican University of California) did conduct a scientific study to determine the impact of goal-setting. Their results support the legendary “myths.” See bibliography for a link to their research summary.

Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People5

Stephen and Sean Covey have created what is arguably the world’s most recognized system for creating goals and managing time. SOAR® capitalizes on the concept of “prioritizing” to guide students through the process of setting personal goals and creating action plans to achieve them.

SOAR® Section 3 – Organize

Chapter 5- Organize Your Papers
Chapter 6 – Organize Your Time

Chapter 7- Organize Your Space

The Brain Circuit™ Model

Developed by Susan Kruger, M.Ed., author of SOAR® Study Skills, the Brain Circuit™ Model illustrates how the brain works to most efficiently organize and learn new information.  All of SOAR®‘s organizational strategies are mapped to align with the Brain Circuit™ to ensure the maximum efficiency and effectiveness that is humanly possible… literally!

SOAR® Section 4 – Ask Questions

Chapter 8- How to Speak & Listen Effectively
Chapter 9 – How to Work with Teachers & Peers

Chapter 10 – How to Read Textbooks & Nonfiction
Chapter 11 – How to Take & Study Notes
Chapter 12 – How to Take Tests
Chapter 13 – How to Write Papers
Chapter 14 – How to Give a Presentation
Chapter 15 – How to Use Language Resources

Brain-Based Learning/Neuroscience

Mindset & “Grit”6

In her landmark book, Mindset, Carol Dweck, Ph.D., shares her scientific research on motivation. She concluded that teaching students how to learn, in conjunction with brain biology, is the best way to boost motivation and develop a “growth mindset.” In two scientific studies, she confirmed that this combination works; motivation and grades skyrocketed among adolescents! Angela Duckworth, Ph.D., cites Dweck’s work as one of the strongest ways for students to develop “grit”…the character trait most strongly associated with success!

Synaptic Plasticity7

The matter in our brain includes millions of electronic pathways (similar to wires) that transmit electrical signals that allow our brain and body to function. As we learn new information, the brain forges new pathways to establish the new information. The physiology of our brain is like a super-highway of millions of connections. Everytime we learn something new, we change the physical structure of our brain. SOAR® teaches students how to make learning connections to take great advantage of our brains’ natural design.

Visual Learning8

The brain loves pictures and visuals. This is because the brain can instantly identify with the information communicated in a picture, unlike text, which requires several different layers of encoding in order to understand the information. SOAR® guides students to maximize visual aids as part of the listening, note-taking, reading, writing, and test-preparation process.


The concept of mental “chunking” describes the short-term memory’s increased capacity to remember chunks of related information more than independent bytes. For example, it would be very difficult to remember this sequence of letters: y-n-i-u-t-s-r-d, unless you modify the order and chunk them together in a meaningful sequence: “industry.” SOAR® builds on this concept to help students increase their memory capacity and chunk small bits of information together over time, maximizing their learning efficiency.

Learning Structure & Process

Bloom’s Taxonomy of Thinking10

Bloom’s pyramid model of thinking illustrates the different levels at which our brains operate; the most simple level of thinking is on the bottom, the most complex level is at the top. SOAR® teaches the difference between “high gear” and “low gear” learning and how students can shift into “high gear learning” to learn most efficiently.

Schema Theory of Learning11

Schema can be described as categories of existing knowledge that a student possesses. The Schema Learning Theory states that students learn new information when they can effectively connect new information with an existing schema. SOAR® teaches students how to access prior knowledge (schema) and connect new information to establish a solid understanding of new content.

Graphic Organizers12-13

Graphic Organizers are tools that help students arrange (organize) new information in a visual format. Research has proven that graphic organizers are a very effective tool to help students understand abstract concepts. SOAR® uses a 3-D Graphic Organizer to teach students the abstract concept of organizing information in their writing.

Cornell Note Taking Method14

Graphic Organizers are tools that help students arrange (organize) new information in a visual format. Research has proven that graphic organizers are a very effective tool to help students understand abstract concepts. SOAR® uses a 3-D Graphic Organizer to teach students the abstract concept of organizing information in their writing.

Cornell Note Taking Method15

The most widely accepted note-taking method for college students, Cornell Note Taking embraces the concept that students need space to “process” information after they have recorded notes. SOAR® present a slightly modified version of Cornell Note-Taking that is appropriate for all ages, but the emphasis remains on “processing” notes, not just “taking” them.

Memory Skills

Atkinson-Shiffrin Mode116

The Atkinson-Shiffrin model, first published in 1968, established the concept of short-term and long-term memory. SOAR® teaches students the different types of memory and strategies for transferring information from short-term to long-term memory.

Connectionistic Model17

The Connectionistic model is based on the concept that memory is a dynamic series of mental connections and that learning is a two-way process. SOAR® teaches students how to make connections.

Communication Skills

Nonverbal Communication – Mehrabian18,19

The 55/38/7 model of communication states that 55% of all communication is communicated through body-language, 38% through tone-of-voice, and only 7% through verbal messages.

Dale Carnegie Institute20,21

For more than 100 years, the Dale Carnegie Institute has been the worldwide leader in teaching communication skills and effectively improving team performance in the workplace. Several communication skills referenced in SOAR come from Dale Carnegie’s landmark book, “How to Win Friends and Influence People” or articles posted on the Dale Carnegie Institute webpage. Dale Carnegie Institute is a “real-world” service-provider; it is the global leader in providing communication training and resources to real-world companies. If they didn’t know what works, they would not have survived for more than a century!

Toastmasters International22

Since 1924, Toastmasters International –a non-profit organization– has been operating world-wide clubs to teach people how to improve their communication, public speaking, and leadership skills. They are a the global leader for developing public speaking skills. The chapter on how to give a presentation introduces the Toastmasters Internationals’ “Ten Speeches;” the foundational training model developed by this global organization. For more information about Toastmasters Youth Leadership programs, visit:

SOAR® Section 5 – Record Your Progress

Chapter 16- Tracking Your Goals
Chapter 17 – Monitoring Your Goals

Chapter 18 – Recognizing Your Achievements

Behavior Modification23,24,25,26,27

We often hear self-improvement gurus encourage us to keep written records of our goals and track our progress. This is a widely accepted strategy, but most people (especially students) do not understand why it is so effective. We draw on several studies from the Northwestern University Medical School Center for Behavioral Medicine & Sport Psychology to help students understand the impact that recording progress will have on their success.


Multiple Intelligences

1Gardner, Howard. (1999). Intelligences reframed: multiple intelligences for the 21st century. New York: Basic Books.


2Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, Office of Special Education Programs, U.S. Department of Education, (2008). Teaching children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: instructional strategies and practices. Washington, D.C.

3Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, Office of Special Education Programs, U.S. Department of Education, (2008). Identifying and treating attention Deficit hyperactivity disorder: A resource for school and home. Washington, D.C.

Time and Goal Management


5Covey, Sean. (2000). The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens. Salt Lake City, UT: Franklin Covey Co.

Mindset & Grit

7Dweck, C. S. (2006). Mindset: The new psychology of success. New York: Random House.

Synaptic Plasticity

8Gaiarsa, J.L; Caillard, Olivier & Ben-Ari, Yehezkel. (2002). Trends in Neurosciences. Long-term plasticity at GABAergic and glycinergic synapses: Mechanisms and functional significance, 25(11), Retrieved from

Visual Learning

9Schnotz, W. (2002). Towards an Integrated View of Learning From Text and Visual Display, Visuo-educational psychology review, 14(1)


10Miller, G.A. (1956). Psychological review. The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two: Some Limits on our Capacity for Processing Information, 63, 81-97.

Bloom’s Taxonomy

11Bloom, B.S. (1956). Taxonomy of Educational Objectives: The Classification of Educational Goals. Susan Fauer Company, Inc., 201-207.

Schema Theory of Learning

12Anderson, R.C. (Ed.). (1977). The Notion of schemata and the educational enterprise: general discussion of the conference.

Graphic Organizers

13Fry, Edward. (1981). What Reading teachers Can Do To Emphasize Graphical Literacy, Journal of reading, 46(9), 48-51.

14Katayama, Andrew D., & Robinson , Daniel H. (2000). Getting students ‘partially’ involved in note – taking using graphic organizers. Journal of Experimental Education, 6(2), 119.

Cornell Note Taking

15Pauk, Walter. (1962). How to Study in college. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

Atkinson-Shiffrin Model

16Atkinson, R., & Shiffrin, R. (1968). Human memory: A proposed system and its control processes.In K Spence & J Spence (Eds.). The psychology of learning and motivation: Advances in research and theory (Vol. 2). New York: Academic Press.

Connectionistic Model

17Rumelhart, D., & McClelland, J. (Eds.). (1986). Parallel distributed processing: Explorations in the microstructure of cognition. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Communication Skills

18Mehrabian, A., & Ferris, S.R. (1967). Inference of attitudes from nonverbal communication in two channels. Journal of Consulting Psychology, 31, 248-252.

19Mehrabian, A., & Wiener, M. (1967). Decoding of inconsistent communications. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 6, 109-114.
21Carnegie, D. (1981). How to win friends and influence people (Revised ed. ). New York: Simon and Schuster.


Behavior Modification
23Baker & Kirschenbaum (1993)_ Self-monitoring and weight change.pdf

1. Baker, R, & Kirschenbaum, D. (1993). Self-monitoring may be necessary for successful weight control. Behavior Therapy, 24, 377-394.

24Boutelle & Kirschenbaum (1999)_ Self-Monitoring During the Holidays.pdf

1. Mitchell, E., Kirschenbaum, D., Boutelle, K., & Baker, R. (1999). How can obese weight controllers minimize weight gain during the high risk holiday season? By self-monitoring very consistently. Health Psychology, 18(4), 364-368.

25Hume.Self-monitoring.Figure Skaters. JSP, 1985.pdf

1. Hume, M., Martin, G., Gonzalez, P., Cracklen, C., & Genthon, S. (1985). How can obese weight controllers minimize weight gain during the high risk holiday season? By self-monitoring very consistently. Journal of Sport Psychology, 7, 333-345.

25Kirschenbaum (1987)_ Self-Regulatory Failure.pdf

1. Kirschenbaum, D.S. (1987). Self-regulatory failure: a review with clinical implications. Clinical Psychology Review, 7, 77-104.

26Kirschenbaum.Mind Matters-Excerpt 114-122.pdf

1. Kirschenbaum, D.S. (1997). Mind matters: seven steps to smarter sport performance. Cooper Publishing Group.

27LaRabida Parental Self-Mon. ObesRes2005.pdf

1. Kirschenbaum, D.S., Germann, J., & Rich, B. (2005). Treatment of morbid obesity in low-income adolescents: effects of parental self-monitoring. Obesity Research, 13(9)

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