College of Science and Health Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

Summer 8-23-2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Jocelyn Carter, PhD

Second Advisor

Antonio Polo, PhD

Third Advisor

Trina Davis, PhD


Executive function can be defined as a group of processes that guide and direct cognitive functions (Isquith, Roth & Gioia, 2013). Relatively little is known about executive function in ethnic minority children. This dissertation examined whether ethnicity predicts performance and parent rating scores on three executive function processes. To date, no study has teased apart the effects of ethnic minority status and its confounding variables in executive function. A total of 134 Caucasian and African American youth between the ages of 11-17 were included in the study. Of those 134 youth, 116 had complete data (both performance-based scores and rating scales) and 18 had rating scales only and no performance-based scores. Results of the current study demonstrate that ethnicity does not predict performance scores or parent-report scores on any executive function after controlling for age, gender, comorbidity, diagnosis, and socioeconomic status. Comorbidity, or number of diagnoses was a significant predictor of performance scores and parent-report scores. Finally, socioeconomic status and age moderated the relationship between rating scales and performance-based measures, with youth over the age of 13 and youth of higher socioeconomic status reporting significantly fewer executive function deficits regardless of their scores on performance-based measures. Executive functions are an integral part of success across settings. There is a continued need to identify variables that impact executive functions in order to implement appropriate interventions.

SLP Collection