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What is Executive Function?

Learn more about executive function by reading our one-page overview, and then learn about the ways that executive function supports are integrated into every aspect of student life and learning at Landmark College. For educators looking for in-depth training on Executive Function (EF), learn more about our professional certificate series focused on EF.


How does Landmark College assist its students in organizing schedules and following through on tasks?

We assist students with scheduling and following through on tasks in many ways, including:

  • During First Year classes, which are taken by all incoming students, we show students how to manage schedules by teaching a calendar system for monitoring schedules, appointments and assignments. We offer students the option of paper-based or electronic calendars.

  • Many students prefer electronic calendars, such as Google calendar, for the ease of entering recurring events, the ability to color code different kinds of tasks, and especially, the feature of having text message or e-mail reminders sent to their smart phones at the point of performance.
  • For students with chronic difficulty completing tasks on time, we offer specialized advising cohorts, which focus on advanced time/task management strategies.
  • We also offer coaching services with professional coaches, who provide a consistent level of motivation and accountability for students who are developing self-management skills.

 

What are effective classroom strategies for supporting support students who have weak executive functions?

Some brief suggestions based on classroom experiences at Landmark College:

For a student who can’t handle a complex task despite good general problem-solving ability, we help the student develop the ability to micro-unit a task—that is, to break it down into a series of smaller, manageable steps. The University of Minnesota Libraries has an interactive assignment calculator on their website that helps students do this for long-range assignments. We suggest students enter the steps onto a template that gives check-off boxes for each step, so they can indicate when each step is completed. The template includes a due date or deadline for each step, with a Plan B box for a back-up date if the first deadline isn’t met.

As far as holding information in memory during complex tasks, we suggest the student NOT try to hold much in memory, but “off-load” most of the information by writing it on file cards or reference sheets, so it is readily available, but is not taking up too much “cognitive work space.”

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