Executive functions in 5- to 8-year olds: Developmental changes and relationship to academic achievement

Röthlisberger, Marianne; Neuenschwander, Regula; Cimeli, Patrizia; Roebers, Claudia M. (2013). Executive functions in 5- to 8-year olds: Developmental changes and relationship to academic achievement. Journal of Educational and Developmental Psychology, 3(2), pp. 153-167. Canadian Center of Science and Education 10.5539/jedp.v3n2p153

Röthlisberger et al 2013 JEDP.pdf - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons: Attribution (CC-BY).

Download (268kB) | Preview

Pronounced improvements in executive functions (EF) during preschool years have been documented in cross-sectional studies. However, longitudinal evidence on EF development during the transition to school and predictive associations between early EF and later school achievement are still scarce. This study examined developmental changes in EF across three time-points, the predictive value of EF for mathematical, reading and spelling skills and explored children's specific academic attainment as a function of early EF. Participants were 323 children following regular education; 160 children were enrolled in prekindergarten (younger cohort: 69 months) and 163 children in kindergarten (older cohort: 78.4 months) at the first assessment. Various tasks of EF were administered three times with an interval of one year each. Mathematical, reading and spelling skills were measured at the last assessment. Individual background characteristics such as vocabulary, non-verbal intelligence and socioeconomic status were included as control variables. In both cohorts, changes in EF were substantial; improvements in EF, however, were larger in preschoolers than school-aged children. EF assessed in preschool accounted for substantial variability in mathematical, reading and spelling achievement two years later, with low EF being especially associated with significant academic disadvantages in early school years. Given that EF continue to develop from preschool into primary school years and that starting with low EF is associated with lower school achievement, EF may be considered as a marker or risk for academic disabilities.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


07 Faculty of Human Sciences > Institute of Psychology > Developmental Psychology

UniBE Contributor:

Röthlisberger, Marianne; Neuenschwander, Regula; Cimeli, Patrizia and Roebers, Claudia


100 Philosophy > 150 Psychology




Canadian Center of Science and Education




Jeannine Sebel

Date Deposited:

24 Apr 2014 09:43

Last Modified:

02 Sep 2020 02:27

Publisher DOI:






Actions (login required)

Edit item Edit item
Provide Feedback