Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Human Development and Family Studies


Developmental Science


Human Development and Family Studies

First Advisor

Karen McCurdy


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 (Kingston 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.



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