The role of executive function skills in Chinese reading and writing among Hong Kong kindergarteners

The role of executive function skills in Chinese reading and writing among Hong Kong kindergarteners

First Author: Dan Lin -- The Education University of Hong Kong
Additional authors/chairs: 
Pan Jue
Keywords: Chinese children, Reading, Writing, Working memory, Inhibitory Control
Abstract / Summary: 

This study investigated the direct and indirect associations of three aspects of executive function skills with Chinese word reading and writing. A total of 213 Cantonese-speaking children (97 girls, 3rd year of kindergarten, mean age= 73.3 months, SD= 3.72) participated in this study. Their working memory, inhibition, cognitive flexibility, orthographic awareness, morphological awareness, word reading, and word writing were assessed. Correlation analysis results showed that the correlations of all the variables were significant except for the correlation between inhibition and orthographic awareness. Further path analysis results demonstrated that working memory significantly predicted word reading and writing through orthographic awareness and morphological awareness respectively. In addition, working memory further predicted word writing directly. The direct path from inhibition to word writing was also significant. As another aspect of executive function skills, inhibition played a significantly indirect role in word reading and writing via morphological awareness, as well as a direct role in word writing. However, for the other aspect of executive function skills, cognitive flexibility was found to be directly predictive of word reading only. The findings demonstrate both unique and common predictive roles of the different aspects of executive function skills in Chinese word reading and writing, elucidating the linkage and the mechanism from fundamental cognitive skills to the higher order literacy skills.