The contribution of cognitive flexibility to reading in 3rd grade children learning French as a second language (L2)

The contribution of cognitive flexibility to reading in 3rd grade children learning French as a second language (L2)

First Author: Larissa Alabe Padua -- University of Victoria
Additional authors/chairs: 
Gina Harrison
Abstract / Summary: 

Purpose: The associations among three widely used measures of cognitive flexibility (shifting) and reading in 3rd grade children in French immersion were examined. Whether any of the measures added unique variance to reading accuracy, fluency, and comprehension beyond the variance accounted for by decoding skills was investigated.
Method: Reading (accuracy, fluency, and comprehension in French) and shifting (trail making, Wisconsin Card Sort Test-WCST, and rapid automatized switching-RAS) measures were administered to 35-3rd graders in early French immersion matched on first language (L1) English vocabulary skills. Correlational analyses were conducted across reading and shifting measures and hierarchical regression analyses were conducted to examine the contribution of each of the measures of shifting to reading after controlling for L2 decoding.
Results: Performance on RAS was significantly correlated with all reading measures, and performance on the WCST was significantly correlated with reading comprehension, but not fluency or accuracy. Hierarchical regression analyses run separately for each shifting measure indicated that once decoding was controlled, RAS explained an additional 15% of the variance in reading comprehension (Fchange = 7.87, p = .008), and the WCST accounted for an additional 9% (Fchange = 4.32, p = .04) of the variance in reading comprehension after controlling for decoding. None of the shifting measures accounted for additional variance in word-level reading fluency or accuracy.
Conclusion: The results add to growing evidence on the role of cognitive flexibility as a component of executive function to reading comprehension and provide insight into this contribution within the context of L2 literacy