Facilitating Executive Function
I used this graphic from ADDvantages Learning Center to guide my categorization of executive function resources for my students. The following is a collection of modifications I've made to my course to facilitate the executive functioning skills in my students.
It is important to note, any modifications I make to my course must follow school policy, which does limit some of what we can do for our students.
course assignment Checklists
These color-coded Assignment Checklists help students take responsibility for their learning because they can fill in the due date and check off when completed. They support and develop the following executive functioning skills in my students:
Module To-do List
This module checklist help students take responsibility for their learning. They support and develop the following executive functioning skills in my students:
How-To Navigational Videos
I have created several how-to videos for navigating the course, how to approach the course, finding due dates, etc. (image on the right above). The videos that are most important, I have scheduled to "push-out" to students at appropriate times as announcements (image on the left above). They support and develop the following executive functioning skills in my students:
Test Corrections require students to reflect on their learning and fill in gaps in their learning before proceeding. They also support mastery of the content. Test corrections support and develop the following executive functioning skills in my students:
The organization of modules in my course supports learner agency and planning and prioritizing for my students. They can see reminders to review the content in order or to read the lab tips before starting their assignments. This organizational scheme supports and develops the following executive functioning skills in my students:
Practice Tests and AP Classroom Review quizzes. These help students monitor their progress and understand what they know and do not know....yet in terms of the course content. This helps them prepare for the summative assessments in the course. I particularly like these, academically, because students have the opportunity to reflect and improve BEFORE the summative assessment rather than after (test corrections, for example). These review activities support and develop the following executive functioning skills in my students:
Providing tips for students help my students get started on their assignments. If they have questions or do not understand the assignment, they can easily "shut down", assuming the assignment is too difficult for them. These tips support and develop the following executive functioning skills in my students:
These review guides not only provide key concepts for the students, but they encourage students to reflect on what they've learned and apply the concepts they've learned in the course. They also learn how and what to study. They can also use these to monitor themselves and focus their studying. These guides support and develop the following executive functioning skills in my students:
Measuring Student Growth
There are a few ways I can measure growth in my students. First, if they were struggling in specific areas of executive functioning, I could see if these areas improved after using one or more of the strategies above. For example, if a student was struggling to keep up with assignments and due dates, I could introduce the checklist. If, after using the checklist, the student started submitting work on time, I could infer that the checklist was working. To really see if the student internalized that strategy and built on their planning/organization/learner agency/time-management/self-monitoring, it would be interesting to "track" that student in future courses to see if they carried that strategy with them or adapted it to best fit their needs.
Second, I could use an executive functioning self-assessment similar to the one available in the book Teaching Twice Exceptional Learners (Kircher-Morris, 2020) at the beginning of the semester and the end and see if students have improved in targeted areas. Additionally, the beginning of the semester self-assessment could help me better target supports and resources for my students.
These titles helped frame my understanding of executive functioning and how to help students develop these skills, even if not directly cited above.