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Original scientific paper

Executive function in different groups of university students

Simona Prosen orcid id ; Department of Education Studies, Faculty of Education, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia
Helena Smrtnik Vitulić ; Department of Education Studies, Faculty of Education, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia

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The present study analyses the executive function (EF) skills of 369 students of primary education (n = 116), preschool education (n = 72), social pedagogy (n = 54), and biology (n = 128). It explores how the different groups of students use selected executive skills and whether there are any differences between the groups in this respect.
Eleven EF skills were self-assessed using the Executive Skills Questionnaire for Students (Dawson & Guare, 2010). All of the groups of students experienced difficulties rarely to sometimes when using EF skills. The groups of students demonstrated similar use of EF skills for Response Inhibition, Working Memory, Emotional Control, Planning, Meta-Cognition, and Goal Persistence, whereas significant differences appeared in Sustained Attention, Task Initiation,
Organisation, Time Management, and Flexibility. In cases where differences appeared, the primary education students stood out as having the fewest difficulties with EF skills, while the biology and social pedagogy students reported the most difficulties. Given that executive functioning is important for students’ academic achievement, their everyday functioning, and their future work, university study programmes should encourage the development
of EF skills among students by offering knowledge about them and supporting their efficient use.


executive function, executive skills, university students, education, development

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