Date of Award

6-2013

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department

Speech Pathology and Audiology

First Advisor

Dr. Yvette Hyter

Second Advisor

Dr. Janice Bedrosian

Third Advisor

Connie Black-Pond

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access

Abstract

The aim of this study was to develop a series of vignettes to form the basis for an assessment of executive functions (EFs) for 9 – 12 year old children. Although EFs are necessary for effective social communication and positive social interactions, currently, most EF assessments focus on impersonal activities. Little research exists that incorporates real-time processing using ecologically valid social scenarios. The current study aims to develop realistic scenarios that children could encounter in daily life. Ethnographic interviews were conducted with six participants, who worked in a school with 9-12 year old children, to gain their perspective on social interactions. Findings from the interviews were systematically analyzed using content analysis, and several positive and negative themes emerged from the data. Predominate themes identified included: talking, cooperative play, non-cooperative play, organized games, jealousy, and excluding peers from a group. Using these themes along with additional features of social interactions consistently revealed among participants (e.g., boys engage in more physical conflict than girls do, conflict more likely to occur in unstructured environments) were used to develop eight social scenarios. Based on a measure of ecological validity, seven of the scenarios were determined to be realistic and were hypothesized to incorporate specific EF skills, such as inhibition, mental flexibility, and working memory.

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