Measures and References: Cognitive Flexibility

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Numerous measures exist to gain a full picture of a student's learning strengths and challenges. Following are examples of measures used to assess this Learner Factor. These measures should be administered and interpreted by experienced professionals.

Trail Making Test (part B) (Bowie & Harvey, 2006): Measures Cognitive Flexibility by requiring students to connect/draw a line between labeled points on a sheet of paper according to a rule of alternating between numbers and letter (e.g. 1-> A->2->B->3->C…).


Best, J. R., Miller, P. H., & Naglieri, J. A. (2011). Relations between executive function and academic achievement from ages 5 to 17 in a large, representative national sample. Learning and Individual Differences, 21(4), 327-336.

Bock, A. M., Gallaway, K. C., & Hund, A. M. (2015). Specifying links between executive functioning and theory of mind during middle childhood: Cognitive flexibility predicts social understanding. Journal of Cognition and Development, 16(3), 509-521.

Bowie, C., Harvey, P. D. (2006). Administration and interpretation of Trail Making Test. Nature Protocols, 1(5), 2277-2281.

Chaddock, L., Erickson, K. I., Prakash, R. S., Voss, M. W., VanPatter, M., Pontifex, M. B., … Kramer, A. F. (2012). A functional MRI investigation of the association between childhood aerobic fitness and neurocognitive control. Biological Psychology, 89(1), 260-268.

Christoffels, I. K., Haan, A. M. De, & Colzato, L. S. (2015). Two is better than one: Bilingual education promotes the flexible mind. Psychological Research, 79, 371-379.

Drijbooms, E., Groen, M. A., & Verhoeven, L. (2015). The contribution of executive functions to narrative writing in fourth grade children. Reading and Writing, 28, 989-1011.

Duan, X., Wei, S., Wang, G., & Shi, J. (2010). The relationship between executive functions and intelligence on 11- to 12-year- old children. Psychological Test and Assessment Modeling, 52(4), 419-431.

Kieffer, M. J., Vukovic, R. K., & Berry, D. (2013). Roles of attention shifting and inhibitory control in fourth-grade reading comprehension. Reading Research Quarterly, 48(4), 333-348.

Nouwens, S., Groen, M. A., & Verhoeven, L. (2016). How storage and executive functions contribute to children's reading comprehension. Learning and Individual Differences, 47, 96-102.

Poljac, E., Simon, S., Ringlever, L., & Bekkering, H. (2010). Impaired task switching performance in children with dyslexia but not in children with autism. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 63(2), 401-416.

Randazzo, A. C., Muehlbach, M. J., Schweitzer, P. K., & Walsh, J. K. (1998). Cognitive function following acute sleep restriction in children ages 10-14. Pediatric Sleep, 21(8), 861-868.

Sarsour, K., Sheridan, M., Jutte, D., Nuru-jeter, A., Hinshaw, S., & Boyce, W. T. (2010). Family socioeconomic status and child executive functions: The roles of language, home environment, and single parenthood. Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society, 17, 120-132.

Spann, M. N., Mayes, L. C., & Kalmar, J. H. (2012). Childhood abuse and neglect and cognitive flexibility in adolescents. Child Neuropsychology, 18(2), 182-189.

Yeniad, N., Malda, M., Mesman, J., Van Ijzendoorn, M. H., & Pieper, S. (2013). Shifting ability predicts math and reading performance in children: A meta-analytical study. Learning and Individual Differences, 23(1), 1-9.