Graduation Year


Date of Thesis Acceptance

Spring 5-11-2016

Major Department or Program



Melissa Clearfield


Developmental differences in executive function (EF) between children of low- and highsocioeconomic status (SES) have been observed as early as six months of age. These deficits in low-SES infants may compound into the well-known achievement gap when children enter grade school. One way to address the developmental deficits seen in low-SES children is through early intervention that addresses components of EF. The current study implemented an intervention to address attention and object exploration deficits as a means to improve cognitive outcomes. The intervention, Play 4 Success, required all infants to practice sustained attention and also taught infants more sophisticated exploratory behaviors. Participants (n = 7 out of eventual 45), 6- to 10-month-old infants in Early Head Start, were placed into one of three intervention groups which taught a varying number of exploratory techniques: Social, Teach Two, or Teach Many. Infants’ visual attention and object exploration were tested before and after the two-week intervention. Preliminary results, collapsing data across all conditions, showed no significant change in total attention to people and a marginally significant decrease in total attention to toys. Time spent manually exploring objects was higher after the intervention and depth of exploration increased at a marginally significant level. These results provide preliminary support to the effectiveness of Play 4 Success, particularly the capability of the intervention to increase object exploration.

Page Count


Subject Headings

Poor children -- Education (Early childhood), Infant behavior – Psychology, Attention – Infancy and childhood, Socioeconomic status – Family socioeconomic level – Lower class, Executive functions (Neuropsychology), Whitman College -- Dissertation collection 2016 – – Psychology Department

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Whitman Community Accessible Thesis

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