Assessment of Executive Functioning Difficulties among ADHD Children through Task Performance in Minecraft

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Piedalue, Cory
Minecraft , ADHD , Executive functioning , Task performance , Virtual environment
Previous research suggests that children with ADHD and attention difficulties exhibit impairments in executive functioning, yet little is known of how executive functioning deficits influence task performance of ADHD children, particularly in a virtual environment. There is a need within the education community to understand how different children interact within virtual environments. As a popular choice among children, the massive multiplayer online (MMO) game Minecraft was chosen as the medium for this study. A quantitative analysis of player performance in Minecraft was conducted on 26 participants ranging in age from 8–13 years old, 5 of whom were identified by clinical practitioners as having ADHD. An attention difficulties scale (ADS) was developed and completed by the participants’ parents to compare children with executive functioning impairments across the ADHD and non-ADHD groups. Participants were asked to complete several tasks which were hypothesized to relate to executive functioning, and these tasks were combined into four measures. The ADS scores predicted two of the four measures. The distance walked measure (r=.40, β=.33) and the chest time measure (r=.31, β=.36) were predicted by ADS scores while the construction measure (r=.34, β=.39) and the distraction measure (r=-.18, β=-.08) were not predicted by ADS scores. After completing these tasks, participants were asked three qualitative questions related to their performance in the study. The stimulating nature of a video game environment may have contributed to the reduced performance gap between children with high and low ADS scores in the study.
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