Bolstering Executive Function in Middle and High School Students
When adults support development of teens’ executive function skills during the critical years of adolescence, it can have a lifelong impact.
The teenage years, when students start to juggle priorities and manage workloads from multiple teachers, are critical for the development of executive function—a set of skills that help us organize, prioritize, focus, and exercise self-control in order to be productive and accomplish tasks. These skills have been shown to be strong indicators of success in school and in life.
Over the years, an extensive body of research has surfaced actionable ways to develop these skills; listed below are links to the studies cited in the video.
- Harvard’s Center on the Developing Child’s work on how executive function builds skills for life and learning (2012)
- Zelazo, Blair, and Willoughby’s study on executive function’s implications for education (2017)
- Borman, Rozek, Pyne, and Hanselman’s study on the benefits of reappraising academic and social adversity (2019)
- Rozek, Ramirez, Fine, and Beilock’s study on students’ emotional regulation (2019)
- Thomaes, Tjaarda, Brummelman, and Sedikides’s study on how effort self-talk benefits math performance (2019)
- Eskreis-Winkler, Milkman, Gromet, and Duckworth’s study on how giving advice improves academic outcomes for the adviser (2019)
- Hulleman and Harackiewicz’s study on connecting science course materials to students’ lives (2009)
- Yeager et al.’s study on how purpose for learning fosters academic self-regulation (2014)
To learn more about these strategies and the research behind them, see “8 Ways to Bolster Executive Function in Teens and Tweens.”