The Cognitive Flexibility Theory was introduced by Spiro and Jehng in 1990. Have a structured predictable classroom schedule, as much as possible. Cognitive flexibility varies during the lifespan of an individual. These activities will also release serotonin, dopamine, and endorphins in the brain, making students feel happy and dispelling fears and anxiety around change. Although there are several specific executive function skills, cognitive flexibility is an area where many of my students struggle. “Understand that such occasional fuss is developmentally normal, may be willful, and flexibility develops with age and things change,” writes psychiatrist Mani Pavuluri, director of the Brain and Wellness Institute. Cognitive flexibility is also important in our social interactions with students. “Flexible thinking allows us to come up with ways to tackle problems,” says education writer Peg Rosen. The ability to see the different ways of doing things and understanding when certain options are best displays cognitive flexibility. Educator Jennifer Warren saw this with her senior English class. First of all, it’s important to be aware that rigid behaviors are often a … Many of us just stay in the mill pond or go farther down the rabbit hole rather than stepping back and trying to sway things in a more interesting direction. This reflects their level of cognitive flexibility. Cognitive Flexibility: Cognitive flexibility is the ability to think flexibly and to shift perspectives and approaches flexibly. Children have to switch mental gears when moving from one subject to another, abandon one way of thinking about a problem when it does not lead to a solution and adopt another way of thinking, and even give up erroneous information to accept new and correct information. Kids use it to find ways to solve … Cognitive flexibility is the ability to transition from one topic or concept to another. Quick! The unique anatomy and chemistry of this transitional state comprises increased dopamine receptors and accelerated neuroplasticity. Cognitive flexibility is being able to flex a brain muscle and push the curtains aside and look out the window toward a more interesting conversation topic. "Mental flexibility is not arbitrary or whimsical,” Koutstaal says. Using positive surprises in the classroom can support and encourage cognitive flexibility too, writes Meghan Fitzgerald at early childhood education platform, Tinkergarten. Cognitive flexibility is required in multiple ways throughout the school day. “Students who exhibit strength in cognitive flexibility and can handle transitions easily, can shift between subjects and tasks in stride, and may have success in tasks that require them to apply learning in one arena to problem solving in another context,” the team at C8 Sciences writes. While shared in fun, these images can start a valuable discussion about how someone might take an assignment literally, in the manner of Amelia Bedelia, or have trouble thinking about ideas in different ways. They also encourage teachers to warn students about changes and provide ample time to move from one task to another. Cognitive flexibility is being able to flex a brain muscle and push the curtains aside and look out the window toward a more interesting conversation topic. Beck promoted these therapies in the 1960s. Teachers can share this example as a way to show cognitive flexibility outside of the classroom — and even the human world. For Toddlers and Preschoolers Subscribe to Dr. Alice Boyes' articles. Cognitive flexibility is an essential skill for an individual to develop because it allows them to break from routine, established ideas and participate in novel activities. Say aloud what color you see in every word. After twenty minutes, the students were asked to switch and defend the other idea — the one they first disagreed with. How can you be more creative? Actually, obtaining greater cognitive flexibility helps children learn, both in and out of school. Even her advanced students thought it was considerably harder and more frustrating to have to think in a different way to defend a side that they had previously spent 20 minutes building arguments against. 3. We all have our own unique mental blocks that hold us back sometimes. defined as the ability to switch one’s thinking (cognition) (or train of thought) as an adaptation to the demands of stimuli The quicker you are able to switch or “shift” your thinking from one dimension (e.g. A child can sort the cards in a few ways: by color, number, or suit. Two subcategories of cognitive flexibility are task switching and cognitive shifting, depending on whether the change happens unconsciously or consciously, respectively. They can be taught to see a situation, such as misusing a word, as something other than an error. Flexible thinkers let go of their first thought to make a correction. Are you wondering how to develop flexible thinking in children? You may be surprised which of your students fixate on problems and are less willing to accept change. Science writer Peter Hess says chimpanzees, who eat tortoises, use different strategies to crack open shells. She uses examples from her own childhood: a cousin spreading butter the wrong way, her dad holding a pencil differently than she was taught, etc. Cognitive flexibility allows us to form new thoughts and beliefs when we receive new information. Building the Skillsets for Cognitive Flexibility Students need explicit instruction and opportunities to practice the flexible thinking that will make the most of their brains' fertile adolescent development stage. Engaging Cognitive Flexibility Classroom Activities Show Creative Examples of Cognitive Rigidity. It helps facilitate the daily social interactions between people as well as in finding solutions to real world problems that commonly have more than one solution. In the classroom, teachers can ask students to create board games and then share them with their peers to play the games in a different way. There’s something for every learner. Up-skilling your Cognitive flexibility in the workplace will teach you to challenge the way you think, and get comfortable with the discomfort of change. Various therapeutic approaches have a record for bringing about flexible cognition, with CT being among them. It is difficult for concrete learners to let go of what they learn and imagine or follow logical reasoning to devise a new solution. This is another fun and engaging way to challenge cognitive flexibility. Building the Skillsets for Cognitive Flexibility Students need explicit instruction and opportunities to practice the flexible thinking that will make the most of their brains' fertile adolescent development stage. Let’s use household chores as an analogy for cognitive flexibility. You can get an email alert whenever Dr. Alice Boyes writes a … Rather than react with negativity to the student who is unmotivated , a cognitively flexible educator will look for the root causes of the student’s behaviors and work to find solutions. Help them learn how to switch gears quickly and find new solutions to problems when circumstances change without warning. When we are mentally agile, we do pursue goals, but those goals may sometimes be changed or modified as … Test your cognitive flexibility with this fun brain teaser. In any given class, you will have students who get excited about new challenges and topics alongside those who struggle to cope with these changes. The next step is to be clear that challenges with cognitive flexibility are natural in many students, and issues at a young age will likely change over time. Sometimes these are called “problems with flexibility” or “cognitive and behavioral rigidity.” Certainly these differences can get in the way of many day-to-day situations such as social interactions, transitioning to less preferred activities, managing differences/change, and flexible … An important part of gaining control over your repetitive thoughts is to … Practice thinking creatively. Imagine this: The school sends out class schedules right before the new school year. Jan 14, 2016 - Executive function is an umbrella term that includes a variety of brain processes that help students to carry out goal-directed behaviors to complete a task (ie., following multi-step directions). August 20, 2019 by SharpBrains _____ Ready to test your concentration powers and cognitive flexibility? Cognitive Flexibility Training and Activities. Luckily, there are a lot of fun ways we can teach children these skills — in fact, many of these are probably games you already play! They recommend maintaining a structured classroom schedule and minimizing change so as not to overwhelm students. Ozobot is a robotic platform that empowers coding & STEAM education for K–12. Sometimes the only thing holding you back from levelling up in your profession is you. The unique anatomy and chemistry of this transitional state comprises increased dopamine receptors and accelerated neuroplasticity. While other students move easily between subjects, some stay rigidly focused on one idea, assignment, or problem. One is to bang them against a tree, which is similar to the way they open coconuts. The quicker you’re able to shift from one perspective to another, the greater your cognitive flexibility. Cognitive flexibility refers to the ability to transition thoughts between multiple concepts or perspectives. They stated that cognitive flexibility is the ability to restructure knowledge in order to adapt and make use of it in different settings and situations. Blogger Nicole Day, founder of the blog Raising An Extraordinary Person, encourages parents (and teachers) to create new rules for games. Beach even recommends Minecraft as a tool because kids have to think creatively, use materials provided to them, and place themselves in a fantasy world. What Is Cognitive Flexibility? Saga Briggs, who researches and writes about cognitive models of writing pedagogy, explained several factors that can challenge our cognitive flexibility and limit the ways we think about problems. Trouble with these skills is common in kids with ADHD. “Students need explicit instruction and opportunities to practice the flexible thinking that will make the most of their brains’ fertile adolescent development stage,” writes neurologist and educator Judy Willis. We use cognitive flexibility daily, even if mostly on a micro level. 9,486,713 and 9,545,582. (For a quick intro, check out our overview video: Unit 3 – Cognitive Flexibility.) They often get stuck and don’t understand why. Flexible thinking provides the foundation for creative brain processes. She assigned students to one of two sides and asked them to create a marketing campaign in favor of their side. Cognitive flexibility is usually described as one of the executive functions. Set-shifting is a component of cognitive flexibility that impacts a student’s ability to shift attention. They also share the food with others or store it for later, showing proof of significant social circles and future planning. There is actually a psychological strategy to introducing fun games and humorous examples of cognitive flexibility as an engaging way to broach a complex subject. As students learn this, they will better be able to cope with neutral changes or even negative changes in their lives. Start by explaining that humans aren’t the only ones that exhibit cognitive flexibility. For children, many of the above-listed testing methods also double as exercises that can improve their cognitive flexibility. She uses the example of a deck of playing cards to explain cognitive flexibility. These include: A new situation might be something small — like a milk carton spilling at lunch — but it requires students to think about how they should handle the situation and move on. As an educator, you need to give students opportunities to practice their cognitive flexibility in a safe and structured environment. Sometimes these are called “problems with flexibility” or “cognitive and behavioral rigidity.” Certainly these differences can get in the way of many day-to-day situations such as social interactions, transitioning to less preferred activities, managing differences/change, and flexible … Younger learners can practice sorting (similar to the playing card example used earlier), while teens can start journaling and volunteering to collect their thoughts and face new situations. This process is crucial for students’ ability to learn new concepts. Explain What is Happening. This involves being able to take different perspectives, shift priorities and redirect attention from one thing to another. shape of an object), the greater your level of cognitive flexibility. Raising An Extraordinary Person, 9 Signs of High Functioning Autism That I Missed -, Personal Space Social Story - Raising An Extraordinary Person, Help Children Develop Social-Emotional Skills with Julia Cook Books, Improve Emotional Regulation In Just 7 Minutes Per Day, 18 Effective De-Escalation Strategies For Defusing Meltdowns, easily adjust their plans when things don’t go as expected, The need to control all situations to match their expectations, Anger or meltdowns when things don’t go as planned, Resistance to following the lead of others – viewed as strongly oppositional behavior or, Insistence on following strict, ritualistic routines, Difficulty moving on from strong negative feelings, There might be a long line up for the canteen, You may try to talk to someone and they won’t be able to hear you over the music, You may not be able to see me immediately but I will be there the whole time. Shifting, or cognitive flexibility, is one of the key components of executive function and a cornerstone of the SMARTS program. For example, in the game of Chutes and Ladders, you can reverse the rules where you slide down the ladders and go up the chutes. Developmental cognitive flexibility can be delayed, but it can also be taught and developed at home and in the classroom. The final step is to show how you are taking steps to help students with low cognitive flexibility, while encouraging them to grow their skills at the same time. More importantly, it can also be taught to students who are very rigid in their thinking and in their views of the world. We make STEAM simple with 2 Ways to Code: with and without screens. Teachers who foster cognitive flexibility early on can prepare students to think creatively and overcome mental roadblocks in the future. In other words, a similar solution is applied to a new situation. An unexpected afternoon of playing learning games or outdoor period for students can teach them that changes and surprises can be good. Like any other skill, cognitive flexibility can be improved if you work at it and practice. “Being able to see things in different ways helps us develop different strategies.”. color of an object) to another (e.g. Building Case, Cognitive, and Lesson Flexibility Students today are learning and interacting with the world in different ways than previous generations due to new technologies and Web 2.0 Tools. Everyone has different abilities, but teachers can create a classroom in which all students can improve their cognitive flexibility. Cognitive flexibility is part of our nature, but it can also be learned. If we think about the rats driving … She explains that the young brain is more open to exploration, passion, and interest than older brains. © 2020 Ozobot & Evollve, Inc. United StatesPatent Nos. The ability to easily shift perspective and recognize when the rules change allows us to think in … Say aloud what color you see in every word. As you start to explore concepts of cognitive flexibility and bring them into the classroom, it may be difficult to discuss this life skill with your students or their parents. All eLearning content should feature interconnected knowledge … Another way to build cognitive flexibility is to make an effort to think in … Flexible thinking is the ability to quickly switch gears and find new ways to solve problems. Furthermore, cognitive flexibility allows the individual to apply lessons from past mistakes and devise alternative strategies (Anderson, 2002). Flexible Thinking and Math. While the concept of cognitive flexibility can be difficult for students to grasp, teachers can use fun ways to explain the concepts of “getting stuck” or focusing on the wrong information. There are multiple types of set shifting, but they all require the ability to let go of one idea to consider another. Simply put, the ACG is the part of the brain used for shifting attention. We define cognitive flexibility as the ability to think flexibly and to shift approaches easily. Below is a list of possible strategies to support students with cognitive flexibility issues. Cognitive flexibility refers to the brain’s ability to transition from thinking about one concept to another. As a teacher, you likely see students struggle with cognitive flexibility, no matter what grade you teach. People who are cognitively flexible are … While most people think they practice cognitive flexibility, many actually experience several blocks or problems which they don’t recognize. This is especially true for students with […] Link relevant concepts together. Having these “mind blocks” doesn’t make you less intelligent; it just means that you haven’t learned how to approach problems differently. Do something you know how to do, but do it differently (and often). cognitive flexibility: the ability to adapt when rules or circumstances change You can probably understand why those are important for, well, pretty much everything we do! Michelle Liew at Learning Mind says being humorous and having a quick wit is a great way to develop cognitive flexibility. These include: As you can see, many of our cognitive flexibility blocks are subconscious or unintentional. Flexible thinking is part of a group of skills called executive function. Cognitive flexibility comes into play when something unexpected happens and you are … It also refers to the ability to process multiple concepts simultaneously such as the color and shape of an object or perspectives of republicans and democrats. Cognitive flexibility allows students to combine ideas and concepts creatively and to integrate major themes with details. Cognitive flexibility has associations with cognitive therapy (CT), developed by renowned psychiatrist Aaron T. Beck. 2. Kids who struggle with flexible thinking often have trouble coping with change. Images by: qimono, Graham Oliver/©123RF.com, Goran Bogicevic/©123RF.com, Positive_Images. Quick! Research Institute for Learning and Development. Cognitive flexibility refers to the ability to transition thoughts between multiple concepts or perspectives. Will they clean up the milk and ask for a cup of water, or will they be upset over the lost milk for the rest of the day? While some games falsely claim to improve cognitive skills, these three games have actually proven to help users boost memory, inhibition, and cognitive flexibility, the new research shows. The neural basis of cognitive flexibility has been studied during many periods of development, including early childhood. Try this classic brain teaser, fun for kids and adults alike. Slow processing speed can also play a role in being able to quickly switch gears and think of solutions. When asked to draw a plant cell, for instance, a student drew a flower sitting in jail — focusing on the criminal definition of the word “cell” instead of the biological one. Teacher Sarah Rudell Beach at Left Brain Buddha has developed games for cognitive flexibility at every learning level. Concrete learners like to memorize what they read or learn and stick with it. Simply put, cognitive flexibility reflects how we approach new challenges, tasks, and problems each day — and the healthy mindset with which we overcome obstacles. In this short creative thinking workshop video, you can start by exercising your cognitive flexibility. Challenge Students to Play Games Differently. Few people actively seek out to live a life full of confirmation bias. You’ve been added to our mailing list and will now be among the first to hear about new arrivals, big events, and special offers. “It’s grounded by our goals and aspirations and a balance between control and spontaneity. Practice Thought Stopping. August 20, 2019 by SharpBrains _____ Ready to test your concentration powers and cognitive flexibility? “However, when it is overactive, there is a tendency for people to get stuck.”. “When the ACG works well, it allows us to focus on something, let go, and then shift to focus on something else,” Amen writes. A home owner is aware that housekeeping must be done on a regular basis. In practice, “getting stuck” means becoming more argumentative, worrying, automatically saying “no” to things, and getting upset when something doesn’t go their way.