Measures and References: Cognitive Flexibility

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Numerous measures exist to gain a full picture of a student's learning strengths and challenges. Following are examples of measures used to assess this Learner Factor. These measures should be administered and interpreted by experienced professionals.

Trail Making Test (part B) (Bowie & Harvey, 2006): Measures Cognitive Flexibility by requiring students to connect/draw a line between labeled points on a sheet of paper according to a rule of alternating between numbers and letter (e.g. 1-> A->2->B->3->C…)..


Andersson, U. (2008). Working memory as a predictor of written arithmetical skills in children: The importance of central executive functions. The British Journal of Educational Psychology, 78(2), 181-203.

Best, J. R., Miller, P. H., & Naglieri, J. A. (2011). Relations between executive function and

academic achievement from ages 5 to 17 in a large, representative national sample. Learning and Individual Differences, 21(4), 327-336.

Bock, A. M., Gallaway, K. C., & Hund, A. M. (2015). Specifying links between executive functioning and theory of mind during middle childhood: Cognitive flexibility predicts social understanding. Journal of Cognition and Development, 16(3), 509-521.

Bowie, C., Harvey, P. D. (2006). Administration and interpretation of Trail Making Test. Nature Protocols, 1(5), 2277-2281.

Bull, R., & Scerif, G. (2001). Executive functioning as a predictor of children's mathematics ability: Inhibition, switching, and working memory. Developmental Neuropsychology, 19(3), 273-293.

Dajani, D. R., & Uddin, L. Q. (2015). Demystifying cognitive flexibility: Implications for clinical and developmental neuroscience. Trends in Neurosciences, 38(9), 571-578.

Duan, X., Wei, S., Wang, G., & Shi, J. (2010). The relationship between executive functions and intelligence on 11- to 12-year- old children. Psychological Test and Assessment Modeling, 52(4), 419-431.

Makar, K. (2014). Young children's explorations of average through informal inferential reasoning. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 86(1), 61-78.

Matthews, J. S. (2018). When am I ever going to use this in the real world? Cognitive flexibility and urban adolescents' negotiation of the value of mathematics. Journal of Educational Psychology, 110(5), 726-746.

Puente, A. E. (1985). Wisconsin Card Sorting Test. Test Critiques, 4, 677-682.

Randazzo, A. C., Muehlbach, M. J., Schweitzer, P. K., & Walsh, J. K. (1998). Cognitive function following acute sleep restriction in children ages 10-14. Sleep, 21(8), 861-868.

Sarsour, K., Sheridan, M., Jutte, D., Nuru-jeter, A., Hinshaw, S., & Boyce, W. T. (2011). Family socioeconomic status and child executive functions: The roles of language, home environment, and single parenthood. Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society, 17, 120-132.

Spann, M. N., Mayes, L. C., Kalmar, J. H., Guiney, J., Womer, F. Y., Pittman, B., ... & Blumberg, H. P. (2012). Childhood abuse and neglect and cognitive flexibility in adolescents. Child Neuropsychology, 18(2), 182-189.

Tombaugh, T. N. (2004). Trail Making Test A and B: Normative data stratified by age and education. Archives of Clinical Neuropsychology, 19(2), 203-214.

Van der Niet, A. G., Hartman, E., Smith, J., & Visscher, C. (2014). Modeling relationships between physical fitness, executive functioning, and academic achievement in primary school children. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 15(4), 319-325.

Watson, J. M. (2007). The role of cognitive conflict in developing students' understanding of average. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 65(1), 21-47.

Yeniad, N., Malda, M., Mesman, J., Ijzendoorn, M. H. Van, & Pieper, S. (2013). Shifting ability predicts math and reading performance in children: A meta-analytical study. Learning and Individual Differences, 23, 1-9.