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Implications for practice: classroom autonomy support, executive functions, and strategic processes

Might these same processes hypothesized to be at play in the parenting realm be extrapolated to teacher-student interactions and the use of strategic processes for reading comprehension and other academic tasks? It seems likely. However, research is needed to explore whether the outcomes of teacher autonomy support include enhanced reading-specific EFs. In addition, we need research that addresses whether the dynamics among autonomy support and EFs relate to engagement and achievement in different learning contexts. We hypothesize that teacher autonomy support may affect the deployment of EFs in the classroom through the opportunities it affords students for self-determined and self-regulated action, such as solving problems independently, pursuing their own interests through engaged reading, and selecting and applying cognitive strategies to make sense of text. Further, when students effectively regulate their own learning, we suspect that this facilitates more positive teacher-student relationships, compelling teachers to further encourage their students’ developing autonomy - and EFs, parallel to how Bernier et al. (2010) suggested positive parent-child interactions may feed back to promote even stronger EFs. Additionally, students may internalize the language that their teachers use when, for instance, providing reading strategy instruction in an autonomy supportive manner and, in turn, translate this language into self-talk that they use when reading independently and deploying their EFs to select and implement cognitive strategies appropriately (Bodrova, Leong, & Akhutina, 2011; Cragg & Nation, 2010).

While we have focused on autonomy support and how it strengthens internalized and intrinsic motivation and engagement, other teacher practices and other aspects of motivation should be examined as contributors to students’ strategy usage and strategy selection prior to implementation - processes which necessitate higher order EFs like planning, task analysis, and monitoring (Borkowski et al., 2000). We would love to see future empirical studies consider the relations of teacher practices and motivation in ELs and students with RCD as conduits to effective strategy regulation and thereby, potentially, enhanced EFs and reading comprehension.

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