Executive Functioning in Adolescence – Session 3

The final session of the Executive Functioning talks was presented last Wednesday, with a focus on the remaining executive functioning (EF) skills influenced:

  1. Memory: The process of memory activation was discussed, as well as the difference between short-term memory (the very short time that you keep something in mind before either dismissing it or transferring it to long-term memory) and working memory (the active manipulation of such information). Strategies for supporting working memory in the classroom can be found in the powerpoint. 
    Image: https://goo.gl/CiF882

     

  2. Action: The ability to monitor progress, adjust approach, self-regulate efforts and evaluate performance. This involves encouraging students to evaluate their efforts so they are able to adapt their approach to their learning in meaningful ways.
  3. Emotion: Managing frustrations and modulating emotions. The neurobiology of stress states and classroom cultures play a large role in students’ reactions in the classroom. 

Part of the challenge with emotional regulation involves developing the EF skill of engaging the frontal cortex of the brain to use logic to negotiate learning. Emotional reactions to learning often bypass such logic! This research spurred an idea for a survey to investigate our students’ experiences with focus and engagement in the classroom, as well as teachers’ efforts to support this focus and engagement. 

LEARNER SURVEY RESULTS

36 participants

“What helps you to FOCUS in class?”

Responses

Percentage of response

Motivated teachers who manage their own attention

14

Teachers who foster relationships with learners, and encourage questions/discussions

9.5

Music

7

Quiet

7

Varied activities

7

OTHER: Class control, allowed to move, making notes, fidget gadgets, worksheets, work made interesting, visual aids, student interaction, work explained on the board, Kahoot, competition, humour, examples given, internal motivation, medication

 

 

“What makes you LOSE FOCUS in class?”

Responses

Percentage of response

Disruptive boys/noise/poor classroom control

20

Lack of teacher enthusiasm

15.5

Lenghy talks

15.5

Lack of teacher engagement with students

11

OTHER: Boring work, Repeated work, no activities, no examples/relevance, long activities, don’t understand the work, laptops, phones, getting demerits, working individually, tiredness.

 

 

“What encourages you to ENGAGE/PARTICIPATE in class?”

Responses

Percentage of response

Enjoy the subject or topic

18

Teacher interacts with students

16

Short, manageable, practical activities

10

Marks

10

OTHER: Internal motivation, respect from teachers who are approachable/relate-able, teacher encouragement, teacher interest in subject, understand the work, parent encouragement, teachers’ personal cues for focus, games, groupwork, challenging work

 

 

“What PREVENTS you from ENGAGING/PARTICIPATING in class?”

Responses

Percentage of response

Disruption/noise/lack of classroom control

19

Lack of interest in subject

19

Fear of being wrong

13

Lack of understanding

11

OTHER: Lack of teacher enthusiasm, no opportunities to voice opinions, tired/hungry, groupwork, repeated work, work not challenging enough, no activities.

 

 

TEACHER SURVEY RESULTS

9 participants

Teachers appeared to have unique approaches to inspiring focus and engagement.

“What have been your MOST SUCCESSFUL strategies for ensuring FOCUS in your classroom?”

Responses

Having a personal relationship with students

Vary activities

Getting students to explain concepts to their neighbours/class

Walk around to help students individually

Pay close attention to seating

Have a warm-up activity

Encourage note-taking

Adjust strategies to time of day and weather

Allow some free/down time after teaching

Use humour

Keep talking short

Demerits early in the year to set tone

Make work personally relevant

Be adaptable

Encourage questions

Monitor laptop use carefully

Group work

pre-present questions

De-mystify tests

Chunk work into blocks

Get students to question their focus

Allow fiddling

 

“What have been your LEAST SUCCESSFUL strategies for ensuring FOCUS in your classroom?”

Responses

The majority of participants reported ‘long talks’ Additional responses:

Large group projects

Ignoring questions

Not ensuring ‘buy-in’ to topic

Relying only on paper instructions

Starting new work at the end of the day

Not paying attention to upcoming sport/heat influence

Talking over noise

Threats of poor marks/failure

Shouting/lack of respect for learners

 

 

“What have been your MOST SUCCESSFUL strategies for ensuring ENGAGEMENT/PARTICIPATION in your classroom?”

Responses

Ensure information is relevant and relatable

Random names picked to answer questions

Engagement with individual students

Worksheets

Varying activities, answering and feedback strategies

Greet students by name as they enter the classroom

Students write on own mini whiteboards

Varied media

Students write on board in front

Assign roles in groupwork

Kahoot

Reward concentration with free time

Use games

Use sticky notes on board

Assign challenging tasks

Walk around class to help

 

“What have been your LEAST SUCCESSFUL strategies for ensuring ENGAGEMENT/PARTICIPATION in your classroom?”

Responses

Talking for too long

No variation in activities

Forcing verbal answers ‘on the spot’

Not walking around to monitor work/answer questions

Laptop use not controlled

Work not made personally relevant

Worksheets

Groupwork

Students remaining seated for the entire lesson

Pushing concentration for too long

 

The powerpoint for the presentation can be accessed upon request.

 

Please let the BSU know if there topics you would like us to cover in upcoming talks!