A New Path for Students’ Success

The Importance of Executive Function Skill Training and the Impact on Learning

Roberta Strosnider,
Ed.D.

 

 

Val Sharpe,
Ed.S.

For over 15 years we have dedicated our work to the development of executive function skill training. Early in our work, we realized that many students, who did not qualify to receive special education support services, continued to struggle with achieving success in school. As we observed these students in a variety of settings, we noted that many of them had a commonality: Executive Function Skill Deficits. We also noted that with some simple strategic interventions that addressed executive function skill areas, these students were able to achieve success. Over the years, we have used specific strategies to support executive function skill deficits in children with and without disabilities.

Our work has resulted in Our 6 Beliefs:

1. We believe that every student has the right to receive instruction that incorporates methods and tools to facilitate their learning. The attention and consideration of students’ executive function skill strengths and needs is a vital component of the instructional process so they can reach self-regulation. In order to make that happen, administrators, teachers, psychologists, other related service providers, and parents need to possess the knowledge and skills surrounding executive functioning.

2. We also believe that students need explicit instruction in executive function skills accompanied by metacognition over time with practice in order to achieve self-regulation.

3. We believe that without specific EF skill training, many students fall into a downward spiral academically and/or behaviorally and continue in that spiral into adulthood. Nothing good comes from the downward spiral, and some will drop out of school, turn to substance abuse or worse.

4. We believe that technology can help level the playing field as can attention to universal design for learning guidelines for executive functioning.

5. We believe that before a student learns new content, executive function has to be considered a major part of readiness for learning.

6. We believe now, more than ever, students with executive function issues are struggling. School closures have required students to use executive functions to deal with learning from home using packets and technology to access learning, transitioning to new schedules and routines, and communicating in a different way, just to mention a few. Parents are dealing with stressors of their own with work and helping their children with schoolwork while teachers are having to learn new ways of teaching and managing both their students’ learning and their own family member’s needs.

So Why Do You Need This Video Training on Executive Functioning?…

If you believe as we do, these are some areas covered in our videos that you will find helpful

  • Rationale for attention to executive functioning
  • Identification of students’ executive function deficits
  • Goal Setting with students to improve their executive functioning deficits
  • Appropriate strategies to help students deal with executive functioning deficits
  • A Model for explicit instruction to help students improve their executive functions with a goal of self-regulation
  • Use of technology to help students with executive function needs
  • Use of executive functions as students respond to changes in the learning environment

What Should I Know About Executive Functioning ?
Our 6 EF Videos are 1 clock hour each

  • What is Executive Functioning and Why Is It So Important? : This module presents an overview of executive function and its importance for academic and behavioral performance
  • Working Memory: This module describes how working memory impacts students’ ability to achieve both academically and behaviorally and also includes strategies that can be used to improve skills in this area.
  • Social/Emotional/Inhibiting: This module covers the role of social, emotional and inhibition in learning. It addresses how these three areas affect one’s outlook toward life in general and how they are perceived by others. It also includes strategies that can be used to improve skills in this area.
  • Prioritizing, Organizing, Sequencing and Managing Time:  This module covers the role of “getting it all together” in thought and action and includes strategies that can be used to improve skills in this area.
  • Attending, Initiating and Focusing: This module covers the importance of helping students start assignments, attend to the desired stimulus and sustain that attention to completion. Strategies that can be used to improve skills in this area are included.
  • Communication, Cognitive Flexibility and Shifting: This module emphasizes the role of executive functions in communication including strategies for written, spoken and nonverbal language. In addition, this module addresses cognitive flexibility and shifting including strategies for flexibility in thinking and strategies to help with transitions.