According to Dr. Kelly Cartwright, author of Executive Skills and Reading Comprehension, three core executive skills are cognitive flexibility, working memory, and inhibition.
- Cognitive Flexibility allows student to shift attention between components of a task (i.e. decoding and text meaning).
- Working Memory is the capacity to be able to work with and hold information in the mind (i.e. a visual image of a character with the character’s actions).
- Inhibition is thinking before acting and ignoring distracting information (i.e. irrelevant, multiple meanings of words).
Executive skill development is essential to comprehending text. Skilled readers need to use high level thinking skills as they make a plan for understanding text, resist distractions, manage information, and make sense of text. Without these skills, students can struggle to comprehend what they read. Her research is summarized in Executive Skills and Reading Comprehension. Fortunately for struggling readers, these executive skills can be taught.
Attend the workshop: Thinking About Executive Skills and Reading Comprehension
Check out a copy of Dr. Cartwright’s book, Executive Skills and Reading Comprehension, A Guide for Educators (2015) from the T-TAC/ODU Lending Library.
Executive Function 101 Prepared by the National Center for Learning Disabilities.