Dr. Louise Karwowski, Head of Science, Cognassist

The speed at which we can process information is obviously hugely relevant in learning settings when time with tutors and the programme curriculum are structured to specific timeframes.

‘‘Many cognitive activities require a person’s deliberate efforts and people are limited in the amount of effort they can allocate. In the face of limited processing resources, the speed of processing is critical because it determines in part how rapidly limited resources can be reallocated to other cognitive tasks’’ (Kail, 1991, p. 492).” (The Cattell-Horn-Carroll Theory of Cognitive Abilities, 2014)

Difficulties with visual information processing speed can cause noticeable behaviours, like:

  • Problem with writing notes and listening at the same time.
  • Slowed reactions to new information or sudden changes.
  • Feeling anxious and overwhelmed about completing short-notice projects.
  • Difficulty having conversations or responding to direct correspondences.

Our three top tips for supporting a need in visual information processing speed

#1 Extra time

Educators are well aware that some learners may require more time to process information and complete tasks throughout their learning and during assessment.

This is why extra time is a crucial reasonable adjustment for people who experience difficulties processing visual information – it’s not just a nice-to-have but a necessity.

However, it’s all too easy to use extra time as a catch-all support tool when we’re unsure what other options are available.

Ask learners if the extra time is definitely helping and try out relevant alternatives – the learner may just be worried they won’t receive any support if they say extra time isn’t working for them.

For a list of appropriate reasonable adjustments, there’s a handy resource available – The End-point Assessment Reasonable Adjustments Guidance. This matrix, published on the Institute for Apprenticeships & Technical Education website, is full of specific reasonable adjustments depending on learners’ needs.

#2 Suggest reading scribe or audio notetaking software

Using text-to-speech and notetaking software can make learning and concentrating in a classroom setting much easier for some learners. It allows them to review the information and make notes in their own time, preventing cognitive overload.

If learners feel overwhelmed, the most likely outcome is that they will stop paying attention altogether, which, while frustrating for tutors, can be avoided with the right support.

Even without some of the sophisticated software options available, getting learners to simply record the lesson on their phone can help.

If their recording has no video, it’s a helpful tip to say out loud when you are switching slides or referring to specific visual resources or handouts – this way the learner won’t get lost when they review the recording later.

#3 Provide slides or visual information in advance

This is another simple but incredibly effective tip. It allows learners to see what they will be working on and get a head start for a specific topic or lesson.

Preparation never goes to waste. It’s how tutors approach each lesson, so passing on some of these planning skills and pre-prepared materials to learners can reduce the strain of having slower information processing speed and give them more confidence.

We all experience some form of difficulty or anxiety in education and work – that’s just the reality of being human.

But for people who experience more significant difficulties, it can have a greater impact on their lives and can put many people at a disadvantage.

It’s our responsibility to remove that disadvantage and level the playing field to give everyone an equal opportunity of success.

Hopefully, this series on how to support neurodiverse learners has provided useful insights on how to evolve your organisation’s approach to learning and learning support.

Remember, these are just examples of how to identify and support learners. Each person is different, and what works for one learner may not work for another.

That’s why we provide personalised strategies so that each learner gets the support they need on a case-by-case basis, depending on their cognitive profile and level of study.

Dr. Louise Karwowski, Head of Science, Cognassist

So, what’s next?

We’re about to bring you something very exciting. A serialised set of guides on how to identify and support learners with a need in the eight key cognitive domain.

How to support neurodiverse learners:

We’ll be posting one guide a week, rounding up with a podcast with Dr Louise Karwowski, Head of Science at Cognassist, who will discuss the importance of starting the conversation about neurodiversity with your staff and learners.

If you like the sound of understanding more about neurodiversity, you can register for free for the NCFE endorsed Neurodiversity Masterclass here:

You can also check out the full guide How to support Neurodiverse learners now.

You may also be interested in these articles:

End to end learner journeys – from initial to end-point assessments - #FutureOfAssessment Episode 4

Sponsored Video

Register, Login or Login with your Social Media account:


Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In Jan 2021, FE News had over 173,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector, putting us in the top 2,000 websites in the UK.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.


We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.


FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page