Abstract: Executive function (EF) is a set of psychological processes that enables goal-directed behavior (Diamond, 2013). EF is linked to classroom behavior and self-regulation, which are particularly important for school readiness and success (Blair & Diamond, 2008; Duckworth, 2011). EF also longitudinally predicts academic achievement, learning-related classroom behaviors, and occupational success (Nathanson & Brock, 2009; Tangney, Boone & Baumeister, 2018). Several studies have attempted to use computer training interventions to improve EF, but few studies have found that training generalizes to performance on non-trained tasks (Enge et al., 2014; Mezzacappa & Buckner, 2010; Rueda et al., 2005; Thorell et al., 2009). However, intervention studies with adolescents, older adults, and neuroatypical populations provide evidence that Exergames (exercise and games)—a new generation of interactive digital games that stimulate a more active, whole-body gaming experience—improve EF to a greater extent than cognitive training alone (i.e., computer training) and simple motor training alone (i.e., automatic, repetitive movements like walking; Best, 2012; Benzing & Schmidt, 2018; Hilton et al., 2014; van Santen et al., 2018). Children with lower initial performance on EF tasks, tend to benefit most; thus, early intervention is crucial and may avert widening achievement gaps later (Diamond & Lee, 2011). Despite the potential practical applications of Exergames, little is known about the effects of Exergame training on EF in preschool-aged children, and whether Exergame training transiently facilitates EF performance or has a more fundamental impact resulting in longer-term changes. Furthermore, few studies examine the effects of training on EF as manifested in the everyday behavior of preschool-aged children. It is an open question whether training generalizes to EF-related behaviors in a real-world context. This study was designed to examine these questions.
Note: This talk will be informal, and will be less about the study (although I will share preliminary data!), and more about the development of the project itself. I’m going to discuss how being part of PIER made this project possible, how I generated this research idea in David Klahr’s SRE course, designed the study in Sharon Carver’s EGIA course, currently analyzing the results in Ken Koedinger’s RMLS course, and how this study implements the Integrated, Interdisciplinary Project (IIP).