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A head-to-toes approach to computerized testing of executive functioning in young children

The Head-Toes-Knees-Shoulders (HTKS) task is a commonly used measure of executive functioning (EF) designed for use with young children. Substantial associations between the HTKS task and early academic skills and behavioral outcomes have consistently been reported. Although the HTKS task is a useful measure of EF for young children, the original version of the task has a number of limitations, including ceiling effects toward the end of kindergarten, potential motivational issues with older children, and the possibility of errors in administration and scoring due to the live administration of the task. Lonigan (2013) developed a computerized version of the HTKS task (HTKS-c) as a means of addressing these issues. This study examined the construct, convergent, and divergent validity of the HTKS-c task with important developmental outcomes, to determine its utility as a measure of EF for use with young children. In the current study, 126 preschool-aged children were administered both versions of the HTKS as well as a battery of performance-based EF tasks, measures of pre-literacy and mathematics skills, and a delay task. Parents and teachers completed report-based measures of externalizing behaviors. Findings indicated that the HTKS-c task offered a valid measure of EF, equivalent to that of the original HTKS task, for use with preschool children. Furthermore, the HTKS-c offered the added benefits of standardized administration, more accurate scoring of self-corrected responses, and, although not examined in this study, the capability of response-latency scoring in addition to accuracy scoring. (author abstract)
Resource Type:
Reports & Papers
United States

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