Using a Novel Game-Like Computerised Measure to Test Executive Functioning in Children

Prof Doc Thesis

Davis, J. 2020. Using a Novel Game-Like Computerised Measure to Test Executive Functioning in Children. Prof Doc Thesis University of East London School of Psychology
AuthorsDavis, J.
TypeProf Doc Thesis

Executive function (EF) refers to a group of higher order, complex functions that are crucial for adaptive behaviour. Although it was initially thought that EF did not develop until early adulthood, recent studies have identified that these skills emerge in childhood. Despite this, most tests of EF have been developed for adults and face several challenges including: inconsistencies in the conceptual base, poor specificity, low ecological validity, cultural bias and limited engagement. To address the issue of engagement, several researchers have begun using game-like paradigms.
The present study aimed to further previous research by creating a novel, computerised, EF measure for children that convincingly replicated a game. Three tests were developed with the aim of assessing inhibition, working memory and cognitive flexibility respectively. The novel measure, named Dragon Adventure, was administered to 21 participants aged 11-12 years alongside the following existing measures: D-KEFS Colour-Word Interference test, D-KEFS Trail Making Test, and WNV Spatial Span. Participants rated their enjoyment of each task on a visual-analogue scale. Lastly, teachers completed the Childhood Executive Functioning Inventory (CHEXI) for each child.
Dragon Adventure was found to be ‘enjoyable’, although no more engaging than existing measures of EF. Spearman’s rank correlations revealed moderate-to-large correlations between the novel and established measures, indicating that Dragon Adventure may be successfully measuring EF. Cronbach’s alpha and Spearman-Brown coefficients indicated that the three novel measures had acceptable to good internal consistency. There was a strong association between the Dragon Sequence task and the CHEXI, indicating that this test has good predictive validity.
The results indicate that Dragon Adventure has the potential to be an effective and reliable tool for measuring EF in children. Future research can now be conducted to improve the design of Dragon Adventure, assess engagement, and develop it into a reliable and valid neuropsychological measure.

Keywordsexecutive function; assess*; neuropsych*; game
PublisherUniversity of East London
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Online01 Oct 2020
Publication process dates
SubmittedJun 2020
Deposited01 Oct 2020
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