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Strengthening Executive Function Skills to Improve Mathematics Learning: Evidence of Promise from EF+Math’s Inclusive R&D Approach
This EF+Math insights report shares promising preliminary findings from EF+Math’s portfolio of 10 teams, each made up of students, educators, researchers, and developers who collaborate through a unique Inclusive Research and Development (R&D) approach. EF+Math teams are working to understand the promise of research-informed mathematics learning approaches in grades 3–8, designed and developed with students and teachers, that combine executive function (EF) skills, conceptual understanding and multi-step problem solving, and equity. These teams are in the third year of a five-year R&D cycle to design, develop, implement, research, and evaluate mathematics learning approaches and new research tools. Preliminary data suggest many of our approaches are improving mathematics learning, and we are simultaneously increasing knowledge of the relationship between mathematics learning and EF skills. The report highlights that when educators and students are involved at every stage of the research and development process, learning approaches become more relevant to the classroom, are designed for straightforward implementation, and are adaptable to different contexts. By centering equity and inclusion from the beginning of the R&D process, we can shift towards a culture of equity and create a transformative ripple effect across the educational community.