Playground use and executive function development during preschool years

Alyssa Francis, University of Rhode Island


The current research explores executive function (EF) development among the children at the University Of Rhode Island’s child development centers (CDCs). Specifically, the research explores the role of outdoor play in executive function development. Two samples, the Providence Child Development Center and the Kingston Child Development Center, are compared twice (time 1 and time 2) across 5 months to assess the role of an outdoor play structure in executive function development. The independent variable, playground type has two levels: a playground structure (Kinsgton CDC) and open outdoor space (Providence CDC). Executive function is assessed using three tasks, the Day/Night task, the Backwards Digit Span, and the Standard Dimensional Change Card Sort Task (DCCS). Findings reveal no significant difference between the two samples at time 1 and time 2. Results suggest an outdoor playground does not provide greater benefits for executive function development than the use of an open space. Results can be used to inform educators regarding the use of outdoor space for playtime.^

Subject Area

Behavioral psychology|Early childhood education|Developmental psychology|Cognitive psychology

Recommended Citation

Alyssa Francis, "Playground use and executive function development during preschool years" (2015). Dissertations and Master's Theses (Campus Access). Paper AAI1598727.