Reading and Writing

, Volume 32, Issue 2, pp 377–403 | Cite as

A latent variable analysis of the contribution of executive function to adult readers’ comprehension of science text: the roles of vocabulary ability and level of comprehension

  • D. Jake FollmerEmail author
  • Rayne A. Sperling


Emerging evidence suggests that executive function plays an important role in adult readers’ understanding of text. This study examined the contribution of executive function to comprehension of expository science text among adult readers, as well as the role of vocabulary ability in the relation between executive function and text comprehension. The roles of additional reader characteristics, including age, reading time, prior knowledge, and vocabulary ability, in comprehension were also examined. Using structural equation modeling, a latent executive function factor significantly predicted comprehension after accounting for age, reading time, prior knowledge, and vocabulary ability. Vocabulary ability mediated the relation between executive function and both lower-level and higher-level reading comprehension. Executive function contributed more strongly to lower-level compared with higher-level comprehension of the text. Implications for future research are discussed.


Reading comprehension Expository text Executive function Vocabulary Adult readers 



This research was funded in part by Psi Chi.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of EducationSalisbury UniversitySalisburyUSA
  2. 2.Department of Educational Psychology, Counseling, and Special EducationThe Pennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA

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