School-Based Executive Functioning Interventions for Improving Executive Functions, Academic, Social-Emotional, and Behavioral Outcomes in School-Age Children and Adolescents: A systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Project: Research project

Project Details


Executive functions include a number of interrelated skills such as sustaining attention, controlling inappropriate speech or behavior, switching focus, planning, and organizing. Deficits or disorders of executive functions can greatly affect a person's ability to perform in school or work environments, function independently, and maintain appropriate social relationships (Buckley, 2012). Although there is still no unanimous theoretical and operational definition of EF, it is commonly believed that EF are essential for purposeful, goal-directed, problem-solving behaviors and actions (Gioia, Isquith, Guy, & Kenworthy, 2000). EF have been linked to many important aspects of children and adolescents, such as academic achievement, self-regulated learning, social-emotional development, physical well-being, and school behaviors (e.g., Best, Miller, & Naglieri, 2011; Fuhs, Nesbitt, Farran, & Dong, 2014; Langberg, Dvorsky, & Evans, 2013; Young et al., 2009). This proposed systematic review and meta-analysis will focus on four core EF components: inhibition (also called inhibitory control), working memory (also called updating), cognitive flexibility (also called shifting or task-switching), and planning. We choose to focus on these four EF components for three reasons: (a) there is a strong literature base for them (Best, Miller, and Jones, 2009); (b) studies conducting factor analyses of various measures of EF on different populations have typically identified them as core or important constituents of EF (e.g., Gioia, Isquith, Retzlaff, & Espy, 2002; Laztman & Markon, 2010; Miyake et al., 2000); and (c) the selection of these four components will allow us to take a developmental perspective on EF in this review. Our previous narrative review of EF literature (i.e., Steenbergen-Hu, Olszewski-Kubilius, & Calvert, 2014) found that studies on EF of early childhood predominantly focused on inhibition, working memory, and cognitive flexibility (the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, 2011) and studies on EF with adolescents often included planning as an important dimension (e.g., Jurado & Rosselli, 2007).
Effective start/end date7/1/154/30/19


  • Jacobs Foundation (Letter 06/04/2015)


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