Leveraging item accuracy and reaction time to improve measurement of child executive function ability
Traditionally, executive function (EF) tasks have been scored using either accuracy or reaction time (RT) metrics. The current study, which includes 1,015 first-grade children from the Family Life Project, demonstrates a new scoring approach for the Hearts and Flowers (HF) task that uses both item-level accuracy and RT data to estimate latent EF ability. Our primary aim was to compare scores derived from this approach to standard scores often reported in the HF literature. A second aim was to test whether item-level accuracy and RT data were differentially related to latent EF ability, depending on children's overall level of task performance. Our results indicated that item-level accuracy and RT data both convey unique information related to latent EF ability but that the relative contributions of each source of data vary across children. Accuracy was comparatively more informative of latent ability in children with lower HF task performance, while RT was comparatively more informative of latent ability in children with higher overall performance. Moreover, item-level RT was differentially related to latent EF ability for children in lower versus higher performing groups. Whereas faster responding was associated with higher ability in the higher performing group, slower responding was associated with higher ability for the lower performing group. Latent EF ability was related to criterion measures in ways comparable to traditional scores. Results are discussed in relation to the broader EF assessment literature. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved).