Research Topic

The Potential of School-Based Interventions that Target Executive Function

About this Research Topic

Over the last 15-20 years, there has been a growing interest in the potential for school-based interventions that target executive function to improve academic achievement. Executive function can be thought of as the set of cognitive skills required to direct behavior toward the attainment of a goal, including the ability to prioritize and sequence behavior, inhibit dominant responses, maintain task-relevant information in mind, resist distractions, switch between tasks, use information to make decisions and create abstract rules and handle novel situations.

Such skills are key to successfully completing most academic tasks, and prior research has documented that students with poor executive functioning skills tend to perform poorly in school and numerous studies have documented a correlation between executive function and achievement in both reading and mathematics. As a result, scholars and practitioners have hypothesized that an explicit focus on developing executive functioning skills in school could yield substantial gains in student achievement.

This Research Topic will focus on the link between schooling and school-based interventions and executive function. We are interested in papers that examine:
• The ways in which school-based interventions impact students’ executive functioning skills
• The ways in which schooling itself impacts students’ executive functioning skills
• The ways in which school-based interventions designed to impact executive function produce impacts that transfer to other educational outcomes, including achievement, grades, disciplinary referrals, on-time grade progression, and graduation rates, or
• The relationship between changes in executive function and associated changes in educational outcomes

We welcome papers that can make strong theoretical contributions to our understanding of the causal links between changes in executive function skills and other important indicators of student cognitive and behavioral functioning. Thus, papers that seek to isolate the causal link between the intervention and/or executive function skills and outcomes of interest will be given priority (e.g. randomized control trials, natural experiments, or strong quasi-experimental designs).


Keywords: Executive function, educational intervention, academic achievement, self-regulation, school-based interventions


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

Over the last 15-20 years, there has been a growing interest in the potential for school-based interventions that target executive function to improve academic achievement. Executive function can be thought of as the set of cognitive skills required to direct behavior toward the attainment of a goal, including the ability to prioritize and sequence behavior, inhibit dominant responses, maintain task-relevant information in mind, resist distractions, switch between tasks, use information to make decisions and create abstract rules and handle novel situations.

Such skills are key to successfully completing most academic tasks, and prior research has documented that students with poor executive functioning skills tend to perform poorly in school and numerous studies have documented a correlation between executive function and achievement in both reading and mathematics. As a result, scholars and practitioners have hypothesized that an explicit focus on developing executive functioning skills in school could yield substantial gains in student achievement.

This Research Topic will focus on the link between schooling and school-based interventions and executive function. We are interested in papers that examine:
• The ways in which school-based interventions impact students’ executive functioning skills
• The ways in which schooling itself impacts students’ executive functioning skills
• The ways in which school-based interventions designed to impact executive function produce impacts that transfer to other educational outcomes, including achievement, grades, disciplinary referrals, on-time grade progression, and graduation rates, or
• The relationship between changes in executive function and associated changes in educational outcomes

We welcome papers that can make strong theoretical contributions to our understanding of the causal links between changes in executive function skills and other important indicators of student cognitive and behavioral functioning. Thus, papers that seek to isolate the causal link between the intervention and/or executive function skills and outcomes of interest will be given priority (e.g. randomized control trials, natural experiments, or strong quasi-experimental designs).


Keywords: Executive function, educational intervention, academic achievement, self-regulation, school-based interventions


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

30 September 2020 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

30 September 2020 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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