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Executive Function refers to a range of abilities that can be grouped into three general categories: working memory, inhibitory control, and cognitive flexibility


These three categories of abilities have a significant effect on academic performance.  In fact they are the greatest predictor of academic performance.  They are also the areas of deficit most common with a diagnosis of ADHD.  Strong executive function skills do not guarantee academic success, the student also needs to be organised and effective, but it is very difficult to succeed in the contemporary classroom without these executive function skills.


Some EF skills can be developed independently of their academic application, and then transitioned to be applied in the academic context.  Other skills are better introduced through direct application to school content.


Working Memory:

The ability to hold information in mind for the short term, the ability to work with multiple pieces of information held in mind, adding new information to information being held in mind.


Inhibitory Control:

The ability to resist an initial impulse or urge and reflect on choices, regulating emotion and attention, and resisting distractions.


Cognitive Flexibility:

The ability to think about your thinking, the ability to change processes in light of new information or negative feedback, being able to anticipate and account for obstacles to a goal.


It has been shown that EF interventions improve school performance, not only on trained tasks but also on cognate tasks.  I.e. Working Memory training not only improves recall specific items but also fluid reasoning and reading comprehension (Zhang et al., 2018).

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