Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Educational Psychology


Bruce D. Homer

Committee Members

Patricia J. Brooks

David Rindskopf

Linnea Ehri

Klara Marton

Subject Categories

Child Psychology | Cognitive Psychology | Developmental Psychology | Development Studies | Educational Methods | Educational Psychology | Language and Literacy Education | Quantitative Psychology


executive functions, decoding, working memory, task-switching, inhibitory control, meta-analysi


Introduction: The Simple View of Reading (SVR) is one of several established models of reading that present decoding and linguistic comprehension as critical skills in the development of reading competencies. Previous research has highlighted the connection between reading comprehension and cognitive skills, including those which fall under the term of executive functions (EF; for a review, see Follmer, 2018). EF may also be critical in the development of decoding. According to the dual route model of word recognition (Coltheart, 2006), decoding involves two separable processes; the phonological route, involving encoding and retrieval of letter-sound associations (also called phoneme-to-grapheme correspondence rules), and the lexical route, involving access of established lexical representations via familiar spelling patterns (also called sight vocabulary). This study uses multivariate meta-analyses to examine associations between decoding skills (assessed via nonword decoding and word reading tasks) and EF (i.e., updating/working memory, task-switching, inhibitory control). Method: Data for this study came from a corpus of previously published and unpublished research reports examining associations between decoding skills and EF retrieved from a systematic review. The samples varied in age of participants, languages spoken, and other participant characteristics, but the majority included children between 5 to 16 years old. Using meta-analysis to provide a synthesis of the studies, the average correlations between decoding and EF were estimated. Characteristics of the studies (including task features and participant characteristics) were extracted and analyzed as potential moderators. The extent to which certain moderators accounted for heterogeneity of effect sizes was also considered. Results: The results indicated significant (small–moderate) correlations between each EF construct and decoding task (rz ranged from .20 to .37), with age moderating some associations. Implications: EF may help explain complex interactions between the reader and the text; however, efforts to understand this association with respect to decoding, considered a foundational skill in reading fluency and comprehension, is currently not well understood. The results have implications for studying reading skills in the context of general cognitive skill development.