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College Executive Function Learning Differences

Interviewing an EF Expert, Part 2

Top Tier Admissions, a company devoted to empowering students from around the world in the college and graduate school admissions process, recently interviewed ResearchILD’s very own Shelly Levy*, M.Ed., M.S., who is a leader in the field of learning development.

Top Tier Admissions(link opens in new tab/window), a company devoted to empowering students from around the world in the college and graduate school admissions process, recently interviewed ResearchILD’s very own Shelly Levy*, M.Ed., M.S., who is a leader in the field of learning development.

Shelly’s interview is a rich resource on executive function, and we will be diving into pieces of it here over the next few weeks (read all posts). 

How does executive function impact learning?

Shelly’s response: Executive function processes are essential for academic success, and we use them every day. Starting from elementary school on, executive function processes affect many academic areas. They are critically important for reading comprehension, written language, math problem solving, long-term projects, studying, and taking tests. In other words, everything we expect our teenagers to do every day in school.

The role of metacognition

The ability to engage with these executive function processes relies on students’ metacognition (also known as self-understanding). Metacognition is a topic we cover frequently here on the SMARTS blog. It’s impossible to define executive function without also considering metacognition.

Metacognitive awareness refers to students’ understanding and beliefs of how they think and learn as well as the strategies they can use to complete specific tasks. When students do not have executive function strategies, they lack an understanding of the way they learn best, their belief in their ability to succeed suffers, and they are unmotivated to put forth effort. When students know what strategies they need to be successful, they learn more about their personal strengths and challenges, which improves their belief in their abilities and motivates them to put in more effort, particularly for challenging tasks.

How can you promote metacognition for your students?

  • Caitlin Vanderberg, M.Ed., SMARTS Associate

*Shelly Levy is the Director of SMARTS Training and an Educational Specialist at The Research Institute for Learning and Development in Lexington, MA. She has been in the field of special education for over 30 years.

SMARTS Executive Function Curriculum: smarts-ef.org

Research Institute for Learning and Development: researchild.org

The Institute for Learning and Development: ildlex.org

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