Doody's Review Service
Reviewer: Christopher J Graver, PhD, ABPP-CN(Madigan Healthcare System)
Description: The executive functions of the human brain are integral in our daily functioning and absolutely critical for optimizing the educational process. Unfortunately, they are fragile and can be affected in a multitude of ways by various diseases and developmental problems.
Purpose: In this book, the author endeavors to focus on the role of executive function in education, the ways in which executive functions are often disrupted, and ways to work with children to compensate for executive deficits.
Audience: An appropriate audience clearly would include educators, school counselors, psychologists, and speech and language therapists. In major measure, the contributing authors are gathered from the staff at the Institute for Learning and Development and surrounding institutions. While experienced in their respective areas, the list of contributing authors has missed key areas of expertise, including neuropsychology and adolescent psychiatry.
Features: The book is divided into three main sections: a theoretical overview, executive functions in specific diagnostic groups, and interventions. The chapters have been organized to convey a logical progression of knowledge acquisition and are interconnected in a fluid manner. Individual authors refer to other chapters when expanding concepts and further illustrating ideas. The inclusion of a chapter on the unrecognized syndrome of nonverbal learning disabilities is especially thoughtful. The final section on interventions contains a mix of general and specific practical suggestions for remediation and enrichment of executive functions in the classroom. The one major weakness is the fact that the chapter authors sometimes refer to obstacles in assessments, interventions, etc., but these are not genuine obstacles; rather, they stem from the chapter authors' lack of expertise in particular areas. Furthermore, the editor has irresponsibly revealed privileged information about how to complete assessment instruments that render them useless and does a serious disservice to the evaluators and children who rely on these tests to make accurate diagnoses and recommendations.
Assessment: This represents a unique look at how executive functions fit into educating students and the ways in which this can be problematic in certain diseases and developmental problems. There is competent coverage of the issues and helpful suggestions for managing executive difficulties in students. Nevertheless, a broader representation of key fields involved in this topic area would make this a much richer text and it could do without exposing critical information regarding assessment instruments.
"This is a very useful book for specialists working with children and adolescents as it brings together research and practice in a readable format."
From the Publisher
"From an impressive list of contributing authors, this book goes well beyond the traditional 'frontal lobe metaphor' in describing the executive function construct, challenging its conceptualization as a static, unitary skill. In doing so, the contributors consider the unique roles of brain development, personal experience, and the changing demands and supports in the classroom setting. Not only do Meltzer and colleagues explain the role of executive dysfunction in the classroom, they provide explicit strategies for intervention, with clear teaching examples. Hence, this volume will be a welcome resource for educators, psychologists, and other practitioners."E. Mark Mahone, PhD, Kennedy Krieger Institute, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
"Meltzer has put together a much-needed text addressing the skills involved in high-order thinking. This is a timely volume that speaks to the array of issues in executive processing. The book assembles an excellent cross-section of researchers and clinicians with expertise in both theoretical issues and classroom instruction. This text succeeds in its quest to bridge the gap between research and educational practice."H. Lee Swanson, PhD, Graduate School of Education, University of California, Riverside
"Finally, a book that clearly describes the significant role that executive function plays in learning! More importantly, this book presents very practical suggestions for effectively teaching students to use their executive functions. The contributing authors are among the leading experts in the field. This book provides a level of specificity on how to improve executive function through the teaching process that is not available in any other source."Donald D. Deshler, PhD, Center for Research on Learning, University of Kansas
"This timely and much-needed book focuses on executive function (EF) from an educational perspective. While acknowledging that aspects of EF remain poorly understood, the book succeeds in offering practical guidelines and clear examples of how to teach and promote students' use of EF across the curriculum. Clearly, instruction in EF is essential for some students with special educational needs, but emphasis is also given to how EF instruction will benefit all students within inclusive classrooms. This volume will be an excellent addition to the libraries of teachers and psychologists. It will serve as an invaluable resource for discussion in graduate courses in education, educational psychology, clinical psychology, educational neuroscience, and developmental psychopathology."Rosemary Tannock, PhD, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education and Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto; Program in Neuroscience and Mental Health, Hospital for Sick Children