Contributions of RAN and executive function to reading comprehension in diverse learners

Contributions of RAN and executive function to reading comprehension in diverse learners

First Author: Kelly Cartwright -- Christopher Newport University
Additional authors/chairs: 
Ana Taboada Barber; Casey J. Archer
Keywords: Comprehension, rapid automatized naming, Executive Function, English Language Learners (ELL), cognitive processes
Abstract / Summary: 

Purpose: Rapid automatized naming (RAN) and executive functions (EFs) contribute to reading comprehension (RC) (Araújo et al., 2017; Follmer, 2018). Though related (Altani, Protopapas, & Georgiou, 2017), little is known about whether they may be tapping similar pools of variance in RC. We examined relations between, and relative contributions to RC of, EF and RAN in 2nd- to 5th-grade English monolinguals (EMs; n=395) and English learners (ELs; n=499). We predicted EF and RAN would be significantly correlated, would each contribute unique variance to RC, and we suspected these patterns would differ across EMs and ELs.

Method: Students completed Gates-MacGinitie RC; Woodcock-Johnson (WJ) RAN; measures of 3 EFs (Cartwright et al., 2019): graphophonological-semantic cognitive flexibility (GSF), TOMAL working memory, and NEPSY inhibition; WJ word identification, vocabulary, and oral comprehension. Correlations and hierarchical linear regression were computed across the whole sample and for EM and EL subsamples.

Results – All EFs were significantly related to RAN overall and for EMs; inhibition was unrelated to RAN for ELs. RAN and GSF (but no other EFs) contributed uniquely to RC overall, along with word identification and oral comprehension. For EMs, RAN, GSF, oral comprehension, vocabulary, and word identification contributed significantly to RC. In contrast, RAN did not contribute to RC for ELs; only GSF, oral comprehension, and word reading contributed significantly to RC in ELs.

Conclusions – These findings suggest RAN and EF, though related, tap different constructs. Additionally, these findings suggest differing roles of RAN in RC for EMs and ELs, which have implications for diagnosis of and intervention for reading difficulties.