Embedded executive function training (Goodrich et al., 2023)
Purpose: Early literacy skills are key indicators of future reading development for young dual language learners (DLLs). Additionally, emerging evidence indicates that young children’s executive function (EF) skills are uniquely associated with elementary school reading outcomes (Ribner et al., 2017). Therefore, the purpose of this pilot study was to evaluate the potential for embedding strategies to support EF development within evidence-based early language and literacy instruction for young DLLs.
Method: Sixty-nine preschool DLLs were randomly assigned to one of three treatment groups: a business-as-usual control group (BAU), a group that received early literacy instruction only (EL group), and a group that received early literacy instruction with embedded EF strategies (EL + EF group). The intervention focused on improving children’s early literacy skills, including letter–name knowledge, phonological awareness, and oral language. Children completed assessments of early literacy and EF immediately before and after the intervention.
Results: The EL and EL + EF groups significantly outperformed the BAU control group for two early literacy outcomes, and effects of evidence-based early literacy instruction were strongest for children with poor EF skills. Results indicated that there were no significant differences between the EL + EF and EL groups.
Conclusions: This pilot study indicated that there was no significant benefit to adding supports for EF skills within evidence-based early literacy instruction. Additional research is needed with larger samples to replicate observed effects.
Supplemental Material S1. Detailed description of tasks used in this study.
Goodrich, J. M., Peng, P., Bohaty, J., Leiva, S., & Thayer, L. (2023). Embedding executive function training into early literacy instruction for dual language learners: A pilot study. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 66(2), 573–588. https://doi.org/10.1044/2022_JSLHR-22-00253