Mobile innovations, executive functions, and educational developments in conflict zones: a case study from Palestine
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Prior research suggests that exposure to conflict can negatively impact the development of executive functioning, which in turn can affect academic performance. Recognizing the need to better understand the potentially widespread executive function deficiencies among Palestinian students and to help develop educational resources targeted to youth in conflict-affected areas, we utilize mobile devices to assess correlates of executive functions among Palestinian youth from varied socioeconomic backgrounds. We developed and examined two types of executive functioning tasks with a sample of 185 Palestinian youth, aged 6–16. Our findings confirm that students in schools that are more exposed to the effects of the political conflict have lower levels of executive functioning. We also found that the advantages of being in an urban environment are strong predictors of performance on executive function exercises, but that a high exposure-risk to political violence negatively detracts from planning-related executive functioning. Lastly, we found that living in urban environment is positively correlated with better mental planning performance (i.e., planning before taking actions) whereas being in a private school is a stronger predictor of mental flexibility (i.e., dynamically adapting to changing rules of the game). We also suggest a few strategies for future research.
KeywordsMobile devices Executive functions Palestine Conflict
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