Executive functioning and written expression in adolescence

Erin Alexandra Hyle, Fordham University


Executive functioning (EF) is known to predict academic achievement in reading, mathematics, and writing in a preadolescent population. However, the relationship between EF and writing among adolescent students is generally unexplored in the literature, despite the linkages between the processes involved in more complex writing and EF. The present study addressed this gap by investigating the relationship between written expression and EF in a sample of 60 14- to 16-year old students. Participants were administered the Spontaneous Writing Composite of the Test of Written Language, Fourth Edition (TOWL-4) to assess written expression. Overall intelligence was obtained via the Wechsler Abbreviated Scale of Intelligence, Second Edition (WASI-II). Hallmark EF abilities (i.e., working memory, inhibition, shifting) were measured via individually administered tasks. The word-list interference subtest from the NEPSY-II assessed working memory, the Flanker inhibition task and the dimensional change card sort task from the computerized DREAM platform assessed inhibition and shifting, respectively. A series of hierarchical multiple regressions were conducted to determine whether EF predicted written expression above and beyond the effects of overall intelligence and age. Results revealed only working memory significantly predicted success with written expression. Developmental differences in EF performance were not observed as age did not significantly moderate the relationship between working memory and writing. These results align with other findings regarding the developmental trajectories of EF; however, further investigation is warranted.

Subject Area

Secondary education|Developmental psychology

Recommended Citation

Hyle, Erin Alexandra, "Executive functioning and written expression in adolescence" (2017). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI10260621.