Unleashing the Power of Executive Function in Math Learning

This is what a game-changing opportunity looks like: when 91% of teachers say that developing students’ executive functions (EF) is crucial  for improving math outcomes, yet 72% can’t name a single program that aims to do that. It’s no wonder - grasping new, abstract math concepts demands robust working memory capacity, cognitive flexibility, and inhibitory control, the very essence of executive function.


EF+Math, a program of the Advanced Education Research and Development Fund (AERDF) recognizes research which shows that all students are hardwired for EF capacities, still traditional EF training methods fall short when it comes to real world application or strong transference of EF skill strengthening to math performance. The EF+Math community is driving the development of bold, innovative programs that don’t train EF in isolation, but embed it directly within math instruction. One such program is called MathicSTEAM, led by MIND Research Institute and is currently finishing year 4 of a 5 year accelerated R&D-to-scaleup project.

Martin Buschkuehl, a leading EF training game expert and scientist, joined MIND over a decade ago with the mission to revolutionize how we integrate opportunities to foster EF training skills into math education. MIND is now applying its proven approach found in the ST Math educational platform to weave EF training activities into an adaptive math facts fluency training environment. This novel platform is developed with a strong co-design component, including the input from a diverse group of teachers and students in the prototype development.

Dr. Buschkuehl doesn’t mince words:

Most existing products fail to connect the dots between developing cognitive skills and equitable learning opportunities. Our novel prototypes have produced very promising early data, demonstrating improved math performance and working memory skills in 4th and 5th grade students.

MIND Research Institute, in collaboration with the visionary EF+Math program and its forward-thinking funders, is grateful for the collaborative partnership and the opportunity to drive trailblazing research and share vital proof points for the market. We are committed to bringing transformative products to market, ensuring that every student is equitably supported and sees themselves as a “math person”.

Read more from EF+Math and their blog: Unlocking the Power of Math Through Inclusive Design and Executive Function Training: The MathicSTEAM Story 

Andrew Coulson

About the Author

Andrew R. Coulson, Chief Data Science Officer at MIND Research Institute, chairs MIND Education's Science Research Advisory Board and drives and manages all research at MIND enterprises. This includes all student outcomes evaluations, usage evaluations, research datasets, and research partnering with grants-makers, NGOs, and universities. With a background in high-tech manufacturing engineering, he brings expertise in process engineering, product reliability, quality assurance, and technology transfer to edtech. Coulson holds a bachelor's and master's degree in physics from UCLA.


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