Building Better Programs

Executive Function News- November 2015

Using Executive Function Principles to Build More Effective Employment and Human Service Programs

In This November 2015 Issue

Using the Executive Skills Profile

Previous WebinarAdministering & Administering and Using the Adult Executive Skills Profile (Recorded)

December WebinarImproving Program Engagement: Insights from Behavioral Economics

Topic and Resource of the MonthWhat Does Behavioral Economics Have to Do with Executive Function Skills?

Using the Executive Skills Profile

In our October webinar we provided an introduction and guidance on how to use the Adult Executive Skills (ES) Profile providing information in on each skill, why an individual’s profile matters, and how to discuss the skills and the profile with participants. As part of the webinar we also posted Guidance on Administering the Executive Skills Profile, which gives direct service staff a starting point for discussing the profile.

  • An important part of administering the profile is making sure that staff have completed it for themselves so they understand each of the skills. Having firsthand knowledge of the profile, and being able to discuss one’s own strengths and weaknesses is often the key to making a participant feel more at ease with the process. In order to get accurate results, it is imperative that anyone using this tool is open and honest. The following are tips to use when administering the ES Profile:
  • Remember that we are hoping to identify areas of strength and possible modifications for areas of weakness.
  • This tool can help frame discussions of future planning with participants- e.g. knowing that someone has a sustained attention weakness can prompt you to plan shorter sessions that are more goal-directed on a regular basis.
  • The guidance we created is meant to be a starting point, but should be adapted to fit your population and your style of coaching or case management.

Adult Executive Skills Profile 

Guidance for Administering the Executive Skills Profile

Digital Version- Adult Executive Skills Profile
A digital version of the ES Profile is available online. The advantage is that it will automatically calculate a participant’s score and highlight the areas of skill strengths and weaknesses.

Previous Webinar
Administering and Using the Adult Executive Skills Profile
Richard Guare, Ph.D., D-BCBA, Neuropsychologist and board certified Behavior Analyst 

This webinar provided information on tools for integrating EF principles and concepts into programs, as well as information about each of the 12 executive skills.

Click here to access the complete EF Webinar series through Building Better Programs

December Webinar
Improving Program Engagement: Insights from Behavioral Economics
Crystal Hall, Assistant Professor, University of Washington, Daniel J. Evans School of Public Affairs
December 9, 2015, 2:30 PM EST

In this webinar, Crystal Hall, will provide an introduction to behavioral economics, describe strategies that are commonly used to improve program outcomes and will provide specific examples of how this information can be utilized to improve program engagement – a challenge that many human service programs face.

Topic and Resource of the Month
What Does Behavioral Economics Have to Do with Executive Function Skills?

Based on the BIAS Project report “Behavioral Economics and Social Policy: Designing Innovative Solutions for Programs Supported by the Administration for Children and Families” 

As we learned in the last webinar, everyone – regardless of their income level– have executive skill strengths and weaknesses.  But we also know that if the mind is focused on one thing, other abilities and executive skills—attention, self-control, and long-term planning—often suffer.  Because they don’t have enough resources to make ends meet, individuals living in poverty often devote most, if not all, of their limited attentional resources to meeting their basic needs, leaving few resources left for focusing on the taking the steps necessary to achieve their long-term goals.

Behavioral economics is a burgeoning field that provides insights into ways in which we can use insights from psychology and economics to take into account the realities of how people think and behave in order to achieve better program outcomes.  Unlike traditional economics that assumes individuals are rational actors who are calculated decision makers who use all available information to make the best decision possible, behavioral economics acknowledges that human decision-making can be imperfect and imprecise – and that the environment plays a significant role– in shaping people’s choices and their decisions.

Regardless of their economic circumstances, people procrastinate, get overwhelmed by choices, miss details, lose their self-control and permit small changes in the environment to influence their decisions.  The behavioral view—applied to poverty and social policy—is an opportunity to bring new tools to old social problems and dilemmas about human behavior. It can help better understand the range of challenges related to program service delivery and success from the perspective of administrators, front line workers and clients (take-up, engagement, retention). You can learn more about how these tools are being applied in human service programs here. The webinar on December 9th will provide an introduction to behavioral economics and provide concrete ideas for how you can use these principles to improve program engagement.