Vol. 2, Issue 8 (2015)
The Role of Executive Functioning in Early Literacy Performance at Selected Low and High performing Primary Schools in Zambia
Author(s): Ebby Mubanga, Silvia Mwanza, Beatrice Matafwali, Sophie Kasonde-Ng’andu
Abstract: In this study, Executive functioning skills at selected primary schools were examined to determine their influence on Zambian first graders’ literacy performance. Kroesbergen et al. (2009) argues that executive function is an umbrella term for different higher order functions, such as planning, inhibition, and updating, and executive functions are necessary for the adequate execution of complex goal-directed activities. Learning is a complex process and is heavily dependent on a number of factors one of which is executive functioning. In view of the persistent low literacy levels among children, scholars in Zambia have taken keen interest in trying to offer empirical evidence on the literacy situation in trying to address this challenge among school-going children. In the current study, 100 grade 1 children (47 boys and 53 girls) from 10 selected primary schools (5 low performing and the other 5 high performing) were recruited and tested in early literacy skills. Age descriptives of participants were total Mean = 108.9; (SD = (15.86), for low performing Mean = 109.5; (SD = 17.66) and for high performing Mean =107; (SD = 13.27). Class teachers of pupil-subjects answered to a questionnaire and the information provided was part of children’s data. The study established that children were rated differently in their executive functioning skills. Low performing and high performing schools had different strengths and weaknesses in terms of their influence on children’s performance in literacy. Clearly, high performing schools performed better on reading and writing. From both school-categories, phonemic awareness was the most problematic outcome which could not be predicted by any of the background variables.