ece353 WEEK 2 ASSIGNMENT

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In Chapters 3 and 4 of your primary text, Farrar and Montgomery discuss executive functioning and memory development (2015), and the factors that influence brain development. For this assignment, you will build upon that knowledge by further investigating how the brain learns. Remember that working memory, attention, and executive functions are interconnected and are crucial to the learning process. This includes the ability for a child to pay attention, demonstrate inhibitory control, and goal-directed behavior. Children may possess varying degrees of each of these functions, but they work together to create cognitive control and flexibility. For this assignment, you will assume the role of a professional development coordinator for your state’s early childhood programs and develop a flyer titled “How the Brain Learns” that informs families about the role of working memory, attention, and executive function in learning and development. You may develop your flyer using Microsoft Word or Microsoft Publisher. Before completing this assignment, review the Week Two Instructor Guidance for additional information, resources, and support. Additionally, review the Grading Rubric for this assignment to understand how you will be evaluated and contact your instructor using the “Ask Your Instructor” discussion before the due date with questions.

In your “How the Brain Learns” flyer, include separate sections that address each of the following:

  • Key Words (1 point): Define working memory, attention, and executive functions.
  • Relationship Among Executive Functions (1 point): Using examples, discuss the relationship among the three core executive functions (i.e., working memory, inhibitory control, and set-shifting).
  • Development of Executive Functions (2 points): Using examples, discuss how the three core executive functions develop from infancy through age 8.
  • Executive Functions and Role (2 points): Examine the role the three core executive functions play in learning and development. For each of the functions, provide a specific example to support your examination.
  • Neural Regions and Executive Functions (2 points): Explain at least two ways the prefrontal and ventral striatum neural regions are associated with executive functions in emotional situations.
  • Delayed Gratification (1 point): Using examples, discuss at least two different factors that influence young children’s willingness to delay gratification.
  • Environmental Influences (1point): Using examples, explain at least three environmental influences that impact executive functioning and memory.
  • Training of Executive Functions (1 point): Discuss at least two specific ways to help executive functions in children in the classroom.
  • Flyer Design (1 point): Incorporates at least three images or graphics that are related to the content of the flyer.
  • Flyer Length (.5 points): Your flyer must be at least 2 pages in length.
  • Title Page (.25 points): Inclusion of a separate title page with the following:
    • Title of presentation
    • Student’s name
    • Course name and number
    • Instructor’s name
    • Date submitted
  • Source Requirement (0.5 Points): Reference two scholarly sources in addition to the text. All sources included in the References list must be cited in the content of the flyer.
  • APA Formatting (0.25 Points): Use APA formatting consistently throughout the assignment, which includes citations in the body of the assignment, the title page, and references list.
  • Syntax and Mechanics (0.25 Points): Display meticulous comprehension and organization of syntax and mechanics, such as spelling and grammar.

Proofread work and only address the items listed in the instructions.


USE in-TEXT citations and use the reference:


Farrar, M. J. & Montgomery, D. (2015). Cognitive development of children: Research and application [Electronic version]. Retrieved from https://content.ashford.edu

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What is Special Education? Executive Functioning 1 3 iStockphoto/Thinkstock Pre-Test Poplasen/iStock/Thinkstock 1. 1. You can use the terms disability and handicap interchangeably. T/F Learning Objectives 2. 2. The history of special education began in Europe. T/F 3. the 3. end Theoffirst legislation protected students with disabilities was passed in the 1950s. By thisAmerican chapter, you should that be able to: T/F • Compare and contrast core executive-function processes. 4. 4. All students with disabilities should be educated in special education classrooms. T/F • Describe common measurements of core executive-function processes and evaluate how results of the mea5. 5. Special education law is constantly reinterpreted. T/F surements are interpreted. 6.• Analyze Answershow canattention be foundsupports at the end of the chapter. executive functioning. • Explain how prefrontal and ventral striatum neural regions are associated with executive functions in emotional contexts. • Articulate how different factors influence young children’s willingness to delay gratification. • Connect efforts to train executive functions in children to relevant theories and findings. Pretest Questions  Pretest Questions 1. Children play a game in which they say “day” whenever they see a picture of the moon and “night” whenever they see a picture of the sun. Children cannot succeed on this task until they begin formal schooling around age 6 or 7. T/F 2. The inattentiveness of children diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder is solely a deficit in attention and is unrelated to other cognitive processes such as memory. T/F 3. By adolescence, the brain is still maturing, which may explain why adolescents engage in risk-taking more than younger children and adults. T/F 4. Young children find it easiest to delay gratification when they attend to a reward and are reminded why the reward is worth waiting for. T/F 5. There is evidence that practice can help improve children’s memory, but it is inconclusive whether the positive effects are long lasting. T/F Mr. Gupta, a preschool teacher, has been recently hired to lead a classroom of 3- and 4-year-old children. Nothing he learned in his education up to this point prepared him for setting up a classroom by himself. As he considers how to arrange the classroom in anticipation of the school year beginning, he recalls conflicting advice and material learned in classes. Gupta remembers from one of his early childhood education courses that the quality of the surrounding environment can impact learning. One experienced teacher told him that children love a brightly colored room with lots of decorations, posters, and charts on the walls. Classrooms should feel safe and inviting, since this can also impact learning. Another told him to make sure the room was free of clutter and decoration. Gupta realizes both recommendations probably cannot be met—a classroom that has a lot of wall decorations and other materials will also tend to be cluttered. He also wonders if he interpreted this correctly. Ideally, he would like to have a bright but organized room. Gupta also wonders if he should allow children to sit where they prefer. Should he assign seating during activities that require concentration and attention? He has learned that children should be encouraged to have freedom and self-control—does this freedom include choosing seating arrangements? He is also trying to decide how to reward good behaviors like paying attention to the teacher. He is considering placing an attractive reward—such as stickers or a small treat—in the front of the room each day to remind children that they will be rewarded for good behavior. While the visibility of the reward could serve as a reminder to children, it might also pose a distraction. He is unsure which alternative is better. Questions to Think About 1. How does the classroom environment impact learning? What factors must a teacher consider to optimize learning? 2. Are 3- and 4-year-olds capable of making good seating-arrangement decisions? How much control should children have in the classroom? What are some of the pros and cons of too much or too little control for this age group? Introduction 3. Rewards need to be used cautiously and appropriately. What reward system is best for increasing positive behaviors? What part of the brain responds to rewards? 4. What strategies can be used to keep a room clean and organized yet also appropriate for the students’ age? Introduction In 1972 researchers in New Zealand initiated a long-term study assessing more than 1,000 individuals during infancy and at various points thereafter (Moffitt et al., 2011). Central to the investigation was identifying whether cognitive differences in childhood predicted health and criminal outcomes in adulthood. The general idea was to see if early predictors can help prevent later difficulties. By the time participants were 32 years old, some had been convicted of crimes. Others had developed cardiovascular problems, substance dependencies, and/or other health-related concerns. The researchers found that self-control was an important childhood predictor of these poor outcomes. Measurements of self-control included ratings by parents and teachers of children’s impulsive and inattentive behaviors. The predictive role of self-control was evident even after accounting for differences in the children’s socioeconomic status and intelligence (Moffitt et al., 2011). Specifically, 11-year-olds who had difficulty paying attention, persisting when challenged, and refraining from acting impulsively were at risk for the variety of negative outcomes listed above. Why? One reason is that poor self-control in childhood was associated with harmful lifestyle choices in adolescence (a developmental period defined by this book as roughly ages 13 to 18). Adolescents who smoke, drop out of school, and in general make poor choices place themselves at risk for later problems in adulthood. These important findings raise many questions relevant to this chapter. What exactly is selfcontrol? Is it composed of a single cognitive factor, or is it the product of many interacting cognitive factors? Can children’s self-control improve through cognitive training and parental efforts? Although the New Zealand study informs us about the effects of poor self-control, it does not tell us anything about the underlying processes that cause self-control to develop in the first place. This chapter will examine contemporary theories and research providing insight into these questions. Core Themes and Executive Functioning The study of executive functions draws from IP theory. Remember from Chapter 1 that IP theory views the mind as computer-like in that information enters the system, is processed, and then is stored. This model of the mind is closely tied to the operation of executive functions. Executive functions first impact incoming information by influencing what enters the cognitive system and what is ignored. Executive functions then coordinate and regulate information once it enters the system. In IP theory, cognitive processes have a domain-general influence, and their development is continuous rather than stage-like. Notice how the research findings described at the beginning of this chapter illustrate both of these themes of our text. The impact of self-control was Executive Functions: Introduction Section 3.1 far-reaching (evidence of a domain-general impact). Moreover, the qualities that define selfcontrol (persistence and attention) are the same (continuous) from childhood onward. In addition, individual differences in self-control exhibited a degree of stability over time (Moffitt et al., 2011), demonstrating idiographic continuity. The two other themes also recur in this chapter. First, the nature–nurture theme is evident in the influence of both neurological development and the environment on executive functions. Second, IP theory approaches the study of cognition through careful analysis of a task’s demands. How a child performs on the task indicates the developmental strength of the cognitive process needed to successfully meet the task’s demands. We will carefully describe some common executive-function assessments in this chapter. The performance–competence theme is evident as we point out how particular performance demands of a task relate to specific executive-functioning processes. 3.1 Executive Functions: Introduction Self-control in the New Zealand study was defined by behaviors like persistence, attention, and impulse control. Psychologists group these and other related processes under the term executive functions (EFs). EFs are a set of cognitive processes that regulate thought and behavior in the service of attaining a goal (Diamond, 2013). EFs operate like a traffic cop at a busy intersection, flexibly directing the flow of information, often simultaneously blocking one stream of information while permitting another stream to advance. EF development is associated with the maturation of the prefrontal cortex, the anterior (front) portion of the frontal lobe of the brain (see Figure 3.1). Figure 3.1: The human brain and the executive functions The prefrontal cortex is located in the frontal lobe of the brain and is related to executive function development. The ventral striatum in the limbic region is associated with processing information related to rewards. Executive Functions: Introduction Section 3.1 Executive functions are crucial for successfully handling everyday situations in which distractions, mind wandering, and temptations have to be resisted. They provide a foundation for academic success. For example, a beginning reader commonly errs by skipping a word or line of text. The ability to pay close attention and concentrate on the text rather than on noises and other distractions enables the child to minimize these types of errors. Executive functions are generally characterized as a related set of processes. In the next section, we describe the nature of these processes and their interrelatedness. Before we begin, some key findings of EF development that are often supported in the research literature are presented in the following list. 1. Components of executive functions are moderately interrelated. They appear to share an underlying structure, but the components are also distinct from one another. EF components are both unified and diverse. 2. The development of executive functions has broad, domain-general implications. EFs are associated with a variety of academic and behavioral outcomes. 3. Individual differences in executive functions exhibit a degree of stability during development. Thus, children who lag in EF development tend to remain behind in subsequent years. However, EFs may also be sensitive to environmental influences and consequently subject to improvement with intervention. 4. Maturation in regions of the prefrontal cortex is closely associated with the development of executive functions. 5. Executive functions often undergo rapid development in early childhood (roughly ages 3 to 7). Development during later periods continues but generally at a more gradual pace (Best & Miller, 2010; Diamond, 2013; Miyake & Friedman, 2012). Core Executive-Function Processes For many children, homework is a weeknight ritual. Some nights the complexity and quantity of certain assignments pose significant challenges. The executive functions are crucial for meeting homework demands, since they regulate and coordinate the child’s cognitive efforts. Without the executive functions, students would be unable to concentrate and would simply respond to whatever distracting sounds or stimuli were present in the environment at any given moment. For any homework children complete, they have likely had to filter out some competing demands, whether incoming text messages, a television show in the next room, or nearby conversations between family members. It takes a number of cognitive processes working in a coordinated fashion to ignore distractions and produce self-regulated, goal-directed thought. What precisely are the cognitive components that underlie our ability to concentrate and think deeply and attentively? Most researchers regard working memory, inhibitory control, and set shifting as three core processes of executive functioning (Diamond, 2013). Many also regard attention as a key construct that underlies and unifies these three components. We introduce these processes in this section and describe their measurement and development in Section 3.2. Working memory is the process of holding task-related information in mind while performing a task. If you change your computer password and look for a notepad to write it down, you are using working memory to keep in mind the password while you find a pad. Executive Functions: Introduction Section 3.1 Inhibitory control involves suppressing information, thoughts, and/or actions that interfere with a goal. When children play Simon Says, they get used to obeying the leader’s commands. Inhibitory control is necessary when the leader omits “Simon says” while commanding children to “jump up and down.” Note how working memory and inhibitory control are related in the Simon Says game. Children must actively maintain the game’s rules in working memory (for example, “Act only if I hear ‘Simon says’”) in order to successfully inhibit a response. Set shifting involves flexibly switching attention from one task-related dimension or rule to another. Switching attention is accompanied by making a new response. The A-not-B error described in Chapter 2 is a type of set-shifting problem. The infant’s attention is first directed toward location A because that is where the toy is repeatedly hidden. When the toy is relocated, the infant must exhibit flexibility and switch attention to the new location. The change in attention guides the accurate response of searching in the new location (B). Note again the apparent interrelatedness of the EF processes. As we indicated in Chapter 2, the A-not-B error also involves memory (remembering the most recent hiding place) and inhibition (suppressing the practiced motor action of reaching for location A). Attention supports these three core EF processes. Attention is, broadly speaking, a system that maintains alertness, directs our sensory system in response to stimuli, and regulates thoughts and feelings (Posner, 2012). To get a clearer picture of attention, we turn to the apt description written by William James (1890), a founding figure in the scientific study of psychology: It is the taking possession by the mind, in clear and vivid form, of one out of what seem several simultaneously possible objects or trains of thought. Focalization, concentration, of consciousness are of its essence. It implies withdrawal from some things in order to deal effectively with others, and is a condition which has a real opposite in the confused, dazed, scatterbrained state which in French is called distraction. (pp. 403–404) James’s vivid description highlights two features of attention that support executive functioning. One is the ability to focus on a task by filtering out distracting information. This capacity is termed executive attention (Petersen & Posner, 2012). Executive attention is an attentional system that handles and regulates conflicting information so that some information is processed while other information is suppressed or ignored. When a child is listening to a teacher and also hears laughter in the school hallway, the two conflicting sources of information—the teacher’s instruction and the peers’ laughter—have to be handled so that one is suppressed and the other is the object of focus. When conflict occurs, executive attention is the system responsible for regulating and controlling the child’s cognitive focus (toward the teacher in this particular instance). Section 3.1 Executive Functions: Introduction A second feature of attention involves concentration and sustaining an effortful task-related focus. Maintaining a concentrated focus over time draws on the process of sustained attention (Betts, Mckay, Maruff, & Anderson, 2006; see also Petersen & Posner, 2012). Sustained attention is the ability to achieve a state of readiness and maintain that state of arousal; it is like the engine that fuels the child’s efforts. Executive attention is like the engine driver steering those efforts toward the task requirements and away from distraction. Real-World Application: Executive Function and School Readiness The executive functions are linked to academic achievement (Best, Miller, & Naglieri, 2011). Take a moment and imagine the ideal student. What distinguishes him or her from the struggling student? Consider the role played by executive attention, working memory, sustained attention, inhibitory control, and set shifting. Then follow the web link below to read practical examples of how executive functions relate to school readiness in young children. http://www.naccrra.org/sites/default/files/default_site_pages/2012/executive_ function_11-27-12.pdf Critical-Thinking Question How do the instructional demands on executive functions increase from preschool to grade school? The Structure of Executive Functions The previous section identified core EF processes. In this section, we address how the processes are interrelated. This has been the focus of a great deal of research, because if the executive functions are related to one another, then deficiencies in one executive function can impact the other executive functions. For instance, efforts to help the child resist the impulse to talk out of turn might also need to account for how working memory and attention support inhibition. If Question to Consider a child is attentive to an instruction held in memory (“Take turns playing the game!”), he or she may be more Imagine an everyday preschool activity likely to hold an impulsive action in check. for a 4-year-old, such as playing simple When a variety of EF measurements are administered to individuals, statistical analyses generally reveal that core processes (working memory, set shifting, and inhibition) are moderately correlated to one another (Miyake & Friedman, 2012). These interrelations appear to emerge from a common underlying factor. Because the strength of the interrelations is only moderate, each process is also relatively distinct from the others, as shown in Figure 3.2. In essence, the executive functions are like a family in that the individual members are related and form a unit; however, each member of the family is also unique. counting games with a teacher and peers. As you imagine creating an informal counting game, how does each component of the executive function help the child successfully engage in the activity? For instance, which EF component would be especially relevant in helping the child sort numerals into even and odd piles and then sort them again by magnitude (for example, into categories above and below the number 5)? Section 3.2 Development of the Executive Functions Figure 3.2: A hypothetical model of the executive functions The three core EF processes of working memory, inhibitory control, and set shifting are believed to be interrelated and supported by attentional processes. Working memory Attention Inhibitory control Set shifting Source: Adapted from Garon, Bryson, & Smith, 2008; Miyake et al., 2000; Pellicano, 2012. 3.2 Development of the Executive Functions In this section, we look at the measurement and development of the processes described in the previous section. We carefully focus on task measurements in this section because the tasks illustrate precisely how we define EF processes. A brief overview of common childhood measu ...

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