Date of Conferral







Jennifer L. Courduff


A high-quality, foundational education offers lifelong benefits for young children. The problem is that working memory in pre-school-aged children is declining and could be impaired by the extraneous cognitive load imposed during engagement with screen media apps and/or preschool programs. Although the pedagogical practices associated with Montessori preschool programs have been found supportive of cognitive load germane to learning and improved working memory, they have not been fully considered in relation to preschoolers' screen media use. The cognitive load created by screen media apps could affect their usefulness as learning tools. The purpose of this quantitative study was to discover any links between preschoolers’ working memory function; passive, active and/or total screen time; and Montessori preschool program exposure. The study was conducted through the lenses of the executive function construct and cognitive load theory. Data on children’s working memory and screen time were collected from a convenience sample of 60 parents: 30 Montessori, and 30 non-Montessori. Parents completed a one-time administration of BRIEF-P and Screen Time Questionnaires on behalf of their child. Findings from multiple regression analysis indicated no link between Montessori preschool exposure or parent-controlled total, passive, or active screen time; and young children’s working memory, although a significant inverse relationship was found between active screen time and Montessori exposure. The results could inform virtual and hands-on pedagogical protocols that support working memory and improve pre-school-aged children’s learning and preparation for life. Each incidence of successful learning for a precious young child is a positive social change.