Focused Interventions to Improve Executive Function Skills

(Grades K-12) / Flex Course

PDI Course Number: 127T02 / UCSD Course Number: EDUC42260

Course Description

Have you ever worked with a student who just can’t seem to grasp a certain concept, no matter how hard either of you tries? Or perhaps you may have encountered a student whose desk is such a mess that s/he can never seem to remember where s/he put things? Or a student who, having just listened to you explain directions, has no idea where to start? While frustrating, these scenarios (and others like them) can be explained by a deficit in a student’s executive function (EF) skills. Executive functioning involves the neurological processes used by students to consciously control their thoughts, emotions, and actions so that goals can be set and achieved. This online course begins by explaining what executive functioning is and how critical it is to the learning process. Teachers will take a deep dive into eight core EFs that control not only students’ ability to think metacognitively, but their ability to respond appropriately using their social-emotional skills. The role of working memory is explored first, as it is an essential element in the processing, storing, and retrieval of information. Teachers will learn how this critical executive function interacts with seven additional EFs — task initiation, planning and prioritizing, organization, self-monitoring, impulse control, shift (a/k/a cognitive flexibility), and emotional control. Teachers will be provided with thorough background information on each executive skill, as well as the implications for teaching and learning. Within each executive function, the course takes a deep dive into strategic focused interventions that help students who have these executive deficits. By the end of this course, teachers will feel more confident and successful in their quest to incorporate explicit, direct, and strategic instruction within reading, writing, and mathematics so their students with EF deficits can succeed academically and achieve a growth mindset. This course is worth 3 ⅓ semester units/5 quarter units (50 hours of training) from University of California San Diego (UCSD) Division of Extended Studies. For detailed information on university credit, click here.

"The content and resources from this course were great. The information on the different executive functions included examples that were true to life and practices to help students improve those EFs." - Andria Barberi

Enrollment Options

Course Only

$99 with the discount

Course with Credit from UCSD

$271 with the discount

This course is worth 3 ⅓ semester units or 5 quarter units of graduate-level credit from UCSD.

You have up to one year from the date you are enrolled to complete a flex course.

Click here to view the course syllabus.

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UCSD Course Number: EDUC42260
Unit One
  • Understanding Executive Function
  • The Brain’s Role in Executive Function
  • An Introduction to Executive Function Skills
  • Assignment #1: Write an autobiography
  • Test #1
Unit Two
  • Assessing Students’ Executive Function Skills
  • Metacognition and Executive Function: A Dynamic Relationship
  • Growth Mindset and Learning Profiles
  • Assignment #2: Article reflection
  • Test #2
Unit Three
  • The Role of Working Memory
  • Focused Interventions for Initiation Deficits
  • Focused Interventions for Planning and Prioritizing Deficits
  • Assignment #3: Share your expertise
  • Test #3
Unit Four
  • Focused Interventions for Organization Deficits
  • Focused Interventions for Self-Monitoring Deficits
  • Meeting Students’ EF Needs with Universal Design for Learning
  • Test #4
Unit Five
  • Focused Interventions for Inhibition/Impulse Control Deficits
  • Focused Interventions for Shift Deficits
  • Focused Interventions for Emotional Control Deficits
  • Test #5
Unit Six
  • The Impact of Executive Function on Reading
  • The Impact of Executive Function on Writing
  • The Impact of Executive Function on Mathematics
  • Assignment #4: Respond to classroom intervention scenarios
  • Assignment #5: Course Reflection

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