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Description: Do you know what executive function is? Perhaps more importantly inlooking at your own academic performance or perhaps a child’s school performance with there be some value in hiring an executive function coach above and beyond finding a tutor in subjects where you were the child is struggling? This podcast from NPR looks at this question.

Source: The Science of Getting Kids Organized, Audio Story, All Things Considered, National Public Radio (NPR)

Date: February 3, 2016

Image by Aline Dassel from Pixabay

Links: Video Link

There is a lot of research and, it sometimes seems, even more media discussion about the concept of executive function particularly in relation to children’s academic performances. Executive function is a general meta-cognitive function that essentially involves the exercise of control over one’s thought processes as well as over one’s attention and related cognitive resources. While we are aware that many children who are struggling in school (as well as many youth struggling in University settings) may demonstrate levels of executive function below those of their more successful peers is not entirely clear whether it might be possible through some form of coaching or intervention to close this gap or whether doing so would actually positively impact the participants academic functioning. This is an example of a situation where you would be well advised to take the kinds of claims made by individuals and firms trying to sell you coaching or tutoring in relation to things like executive function with caution. For laying out money is very are asking for be worth doing a little bit of research into whether or not systematic research supports the claims that they’re making.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What sorts of claims are being made by academic coaches and tutors and in relation to executive function?
  2. In what areas of psychology or within what theories of psychology do you think it would be good to investigate the claims made by academic coaches and tutors in relation to executive function?
  3. Take one or two of the claims made in the audio story about things that could be done to positively impact executive function and see what you can find either online or through your library that speaks directly about psychological research for or against the claims being made.

References (Read Further):

Volckaert, A. M. S., & Noël, M. P. (2015). Training executive function in preschoolers reduce externalizing behaviors. Trends in Neuroscience and Education, 4(1), 37-47.

Kirk, H. E., Gray, K., Riby, D. M., & Cornish, K. M. (2015). Cognitive training as a resolution for early executive function difficulties in children with intellectual disabilities. Research in developmental disabilities, 38, 145-160.

Black, N., & Mullan, B. (2015). An intervention to decrease heavy episodic drinking in college students: The effect of executive function training. Journal of American College Health, 63(4), 280-284.

Jacob, R., & Parkinson, J. (2015). The Potential for School-Based Interventions That Target Executive Function to Improve Academic Achievement A Review. Review of Educational Research, 85(4), 512-552.