Academic performance across the grades depends increasingly on students’ ability to plan their time, organize and prioritize ideas, shift approaches flexibly, and monitor their progress. These executive function processes affect students’ performance in most academic areas that involve conceptual reasoning, in particular, reading comprehension, writing, and math problem-solving. Nevertheless, classroom instruction does not typically include explicit strategies for teaching executive function systematically or for helping students to understand how they think and learn, a process that is referred to as “metacognitive awareness.”
Successful education in 21st century classrooms requires an ongoing discovery of strategies that promote executive function and flexible thinking in students across the grades and content areas. Cognitive flexibility is particularly essential as it allows students to learn to shift mindsets and think flexibly as they approach their academic work. There are many amazing researchers who have documented the importance of executive function and metacognition; however, what is needed now are practical approaches for promoting metacognitive awareness, flexible thinking, and executive function strategies as part of the classroom curriculum across the grades.
– Lynn Meltzer, Ph.D., President & Director of Research