EXECUTIVE FUNCTION AND EMERGENT LITERACY: DIRECT AND MEDIATED PREDICTORS

Open Access
Author:
Stanton, Cady Michelle
Graduate Program:
Human Development and Family Studies
Degree:
Master of Science
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
None
Committee Members:
  • Scott David Gest, Thesis Advisor
Keywords:
  • inhibitory control
  • executive function
  • literacy
  • reading
  • working memory
  • attention control
Abstract:
Although recent research supports Executive Function (EF) as a predictor of Emergent Literacy, multiple questions remain. This study investigates how domain-specific EF skills relate to growth in Emergent Literacy over time; how Emergent Literacy predicts growth in Executive Function; and whether a child’s behavioral engagement in the learning process (Approach to Learning) mediates the relationship between Executive Function and Emergent Literacy. Participants, initially Head Start students from both urban and rural Pennsylvania counties, were followed from the Fall of pre-Kindergarten through the Spring of first grade (N=164). Measures of EF (Backward Word Span, Dimensional Change Card Sort, Pencil Tapping), Approach to Learning, and multiple measures of Emergent Literacy were administered across time. Hypotheses were tested using path analysis models. These models provided consistent support for the hypothesis that Emergent Literacy predicts growth in EF and partial support for the hypothesis that EF predicts growth in Emergent Literacy. There was very limited evidence that Approach to Learning mediated the relationship between EF and Emergent Literacy. This study provides clear support for a transactional relationship between EF and Emergent Literacy, but the mechanism(s) creating this relationship remain open to further research.