Teachers' understanding of the role of executive functions in mathematics learning
journal contributionposted on 2014-10-30, 14:23 authored by Camilla GilmoreCamilla Gilmore, Lucy Cragg
Cognitive psychology research has suggested an important role for executive functions, the set of skills that monitor and control thought and action, in learning mathematics. However, there is currently little evidence about whether teachers are aware of the importance of these skills and, if so, how they come by this information. We conducted an online survey of teachers' views on the importance of a range of skills for mathematics learning. Teachers rated executive function skills, and in particular inhibition and shifting, to be important for mathematics. The value placed on executive function skills increased with increasing teaching experience. Most teachers reported that they were aware of these skills, although few knew the term “executive functions.” This awareness had come about through their teaching experience rather than from formal instruction. Researchers and teacher educators could do more to highlight the importance of these skills to trainee or new teachers.
This work was supported by ESRC grant [grant number RES-062-23-3280]. C.G. is funded by a Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Fellowship.
- Mathematics Education Centre