Executive Functioning and Technology – by Jean Card

By General Education Advice
Executive Functioning and Connecticut
Jean Card, Connecticut’s foremost Executive Functioning expert

I work with many students who have been identified with Executive Function deficits.  Executive Functions are the brain operations that keep us organized, on task, able to shift between demands and manage our emotions.  I have noticed a trend over the last several years that students are exhibiting these deficits, but the cause is technology NOT brain wiring.

Parents call me when their son or daughter has the potential to do well in school but the results are not matching that potential.  What I’ve discovered in my work with students is that technology is not always the expedient support we expect it to be. There are two main areas where I have seen technology actually create an academic disability in students.

Many schools now utilize an online software system to track grades and post homework assignments.  As a result, students do not utilize a planner since homework is posted for them online daily. The online format allows students to check the portal and then complete the assignment.  However, what if there is a long term assignment such as a essay/paper, science lab or project? All that is posted online is the due date or the due dates of chunked parts of the assignment, such as an outline for a paper.  In this situation, students have been trained to check for daily assignments and have no idea how to break down the larger assignments into manageable tasks. As a result, due dates or missed or assignments are rushed, both of which result in poor grades.

Essay writing is the other place technology has a negative academic impact.   Google Docs is the haven of writing assignments.  When assigned an essay, students flip up the laptop and start typing. The false lure of the computer is that the student can get to work on the assignment and submit it via Google Docs. Done! Except that the student has submitted a disorganized essay with little or no structure that lacks cohesion and leads to poor grades. Students need to be retrained in the efficiency and effectiveness of prewriting using some sort of graphic organizer.

Technology is wonderful if used correctly.  In my work with students and families, I show them how to do so.  For more: https://www.forbes.com/sites/michaelhorn/2017/11/14/new-research-answers-whether-technology-is-good-or-bad-for-learning/#d8c457719d7f