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Psychological Science
2018 Project Proposal

Executive functioning in urban youth

Nicholas de Leeuw (Psychological Science)

Executive functions are basic mental processes involved in goal-directed cognitive and social tasks.  They include working memory, inhibitory control, flexible thinking and perspective taking.  Strong executive functioning is said to be a key factor in academic and social success.  Some educators and psychologists have asserted that certain children's games could improve executive functioning.  For example, Red Light/Green Light involves inhibitory control, and may improve inhibitory control through practice.  {P}The goal of this project is to develop and pilot test some games that could potentially serve as training procedures to improve executive functioning, and to assess their effectiveness on a population of low-income urban youth enrolled in a summer program in downtown Poughkeepsie. This will involve baseline testing of executive functions using established procedures, and the development and testing of new training procedures.  In order to gain the trust of potential participants and their families, the fellow will be embedded in the youth program prior to and during training and testing.          

Prerequisites:  The student should have some coursework in psychology, and an interest in psychology research. Experience working with elementary school age children in a formal setting (school, camp, or after-school program) is a plus.  Experience working with a low-income urban population is a plus.           

How should students express their interest in this project?  Students should describe their experiences with children and/or urban populations on their application.  Interested students should email me to arrange an interview (in person or via Skype or a similar service).