Using confirmatory factor analysis to understand executive control in preschool children

sources of variation in emergent mathematic achievement

Rebecca Bull*, Kimberly Andrews Espy, Sandra A. Wiebe, Tiffany D. Sheffield, Jennifer Mize Nelson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

94 Citations (Scopus)


Latent variable modeling methods have demonstrated utility for understanding the structure of executive control (EC) across development. These methods are utilized to better characterize the relation between EC and mathematics achievement in the preschool period, and to understand contributing sources of individual variation. Using the sample and battery of laboratory tasks described in Wiebe, Espy and Charak (2008), latent EC was related strongly to emergent mathematics achievement in preschool, and was robust after controlling for crystallized intellectual skills. The relation between crystallized skills and emergent mathematics differed between girls and boys, although the predictive association between EC and mathematics did not. Two dimensions of the child's social environment contributed to mathematics achievement: social network support through its relation to EC and environmental stressors through its relation with crystallized skills. These findings underscore the need to examine the dimensions, mechanisms, and individual pathways that influence the development of early competence in basic cognitive processes that underpin early academic achievement.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)679-692
Number of pages14
JournalDevelopmental Science
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2011
Externally publishedYes

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