This study examined age-related changes in complex executive function (EF) in a large, representative sample (N = 2,036) aged 5 to 17 using the Cognitive Assessment System (CAS; Naglieri & Das, 1997a). Relations between complex EF and academic achievement were examined on a sub-sample (N = 1,395) given the Woodcock-Johnson Tests of Achievement-Revised (Woodcock & Johnson, 1989). Performance on the three complex EF tasks improved until at least age 15, although improvement slowed with increasing age and varied some across tasks. Moreover, the different developmental patterns in the correlations between completion time and accuracy provide clues to developmental processes. Examination of individual achievement subtests clarified the specific aspects of academic performance most related to complex EF. Finally, the correlation between complex EF and academic achievement varied across ages, but the developmental pattern of the strength of these correlations was remarkably similar for overall math and reading achievement, suggesting a domain-general relation between complex EF and academic achievement.
The contribution of the three core components of working memory (WM) to the development of mathematical skills in young children is poorly understood. The relation between specific WM components and Numerical Operations, which emphasize computation and fact retrieval, and Mathematical Reasoning, which emphasizes verbal problem solving abilities in 48 2nd and 50 3rd graders was assessed using standardized WM and mathematical achievement measures. For 2nd graders, the central executive and phonological components predicted Mathematical Reasoning skills; whereas the visuo-spatial component predicted both Mathematical Reasoning and Numerical Operations skills in 3rd graders. This pattern suggests that the central executive and phonological loop facilitate performance during early stages of mathematical learning whereas visuo-spatial representations play an increasingly important role during later stages. We propose that these changes reflect a shift from prefrontal to parietal cortical functions during mathematical skill acquisition. Implications for learning and individual differences are discussed.
The present study examined the phenotypic and genetic relationship between fluency and non-fluency-based measures of reading and mathematics performance. Participants were drawn from the Western Reserve Reading and Math Project, an ongoing longitudinal twin project of same-sex MZ and DZ twins from Ohio. The present analyses are based on tester-administered measures available from 228 twin pairs (age M=9.86 years). Measurement models suggested that four factors represent the data, namely Decoding, Fluency, Comprehension, and Math. Subsequent quantitative genetic analyses of these latent factors suggested that a single genetic factor accounted for the covariance among these four latent factors. However, there were also unique genetic effects on Fluency and Math, independent from the common genetic factor. Thus, although there is a significant genetic overlap among different reading and math skills, there may be independent genetic sources of variation related to measures of decoding fluency and mathematics.
Children whose parents have higher education enjoy greater age-linked gains in cognitive abilities and academic achievement. Different researchers have typically focused on different outcomes, and the extent to which parental education relates to multiple child outcomes via a single developmental pathway has received little empirical attention. This issue was examined by applying common factor structural equation models to a large (N = 4,810) nationally representative sample of kindergarten through 12(th) grade children, who were measured on 6 distinct cognitive abilities and 5 distinct forms of knowledge and academic achievement. Results indicated that a single pathway accounted for the relations between parental education and age differences in children's cognitive abilities. However, additional unique pathways were necessary to account for the relations between parental education and age differences in academic knowledge and mathematics. These results suggest that while socioeconomic differences are largely manifest in global aspects of cognitive development, they have incremental relations with some forms of academic achievement.
The genetic and environmental origins of individual differences in mathematical self-evaluation over time and its association with later mathematics achievement were investigated in a UK sample of 2138 twin pairs at ages 9 and 12. Self-evaluation indexed how good children think they are at mathematical activities and how much they like those activities. Mathematics achievement was assessed by teachers based on UK National Curriculum standards. At both ages self-evaluation was approximately 40% heritable, with the rest of the variance explained by non-shared environment. The results also suggested moderate reciprocal associations between self-evaluation and mathematics achievement across time, with earlier self-evaluation predicting later performance and earlier performance predicting later self-evaluation. These cross-lagged relationships were genetically rather than environmentally mediated.
Children's symbolic number sense was examined at the beginning of first grade with a short screen of competencies related to counting, number knowledge, and arithmetic operations. Conventional mathematics achievement was then assessed at the end of both first and third grades. Controlling for age and cognitive abilities (i.e., language, spatial, and memory), number sense made a unique and meaningful contribution to the variance in mathematics achievement at both first and third grades. Furthermore, the strength of the predictions did not weaken over time. Number sense was most strongly related to the ability to solve applied mathematics problems presented in various contexts. The number sense screen taps important intermediate skills that should be considered in the development of early mathematics assessments and interventions.
There is accumulating evidence that genetic influences on achievement are more pronounced among children living in higher socioeconomic status homes, and that these gene-by-environment interactions occur prior to children's entry into formal schooling. We hypothesized that one pathway through which socioeconomic status promotes genetic influences on early achievement is by facilitating the processes by which children select, evoke, and attend to learning experiences that are consistent with genetically influenced individual differences in their motivation to learn. We examined this hypothesis in a nationally representative sample of approximately 650 pairs of four-year old identical and fraternal twins who were administered a measure of math achievement, and rated by their parents on a broad set of items assessing learning motivation. Results indicated a genetic link between learning motivation and math achievement that varied positively with family socioeconomic status: Genetic differences in learning motivation contributed to math achievement more strongly in more advantaged homes. Once this effect of learning motivation was controlled for, gene-by-socioeconomic status interaction on math achievement was reduced from previously significant levels, to nonsignificant levels.
A person-centered approach was used to explore the mediating role of self-regulation between learner typology at age 8 and academic achievement at age 14while controlling for domain-specific achievement in a longitudinal sample of 113 children born to adolescent mothers. Children were classified into one of 5 learner typologies at age 8based on interactive patterns of intellectual, achievement, and adaptive abilities. Typology classification explained significant variance in both reading and mathematics achievement at age 14. A bootstrapping approach confirmed that self-regulation mediated the relationship between typology and reading and mathematical achievement for children from all typologies except those classified as Cognitively and Adaptively Challenged. Implications of person-centered approaches for understanding processes involved with achievement are discussed.
Existing behavior-genetic research implicates substantial influence of heredity and modest influence of shared environment on reading achievement and reading disability. Applying DeFries-Fulker analysis to a combined sample of twins and adoptees (N = 4,886, including 266 reading-disabled probands), the present study replicates prior findings of considerable heritability for both reading achievement and reading disability. A simple biometric model adequately described parent and offspring data (combined N = 9,430 parents and offspring) across differing types of families present in the sample Analyses yielded a high heritability estimate (around 0.70) and a negligible shared-environmentality estimate for both reading achievement and reading disability. No evidence of gene × environment interaction was found for parental reading ability and parental educational attainment, the two moderators analyzed.
Using the biological and adoptive families in the Minnesota-based Sibling Interaction and Behavior Study, we investigated the associations among genetic and environmental influences on IQ, parenting, parental expectations for offspring educational attainment, engagement in school, and school grades. All variables showed substantial genetic influence, and very modest shared environmental influence. No gender differences were evident. There were significant genetic influences common to IQ and parental expectations of educational attainment, parenting and engagement in school, school grades and engagement in school, parental expectations for offspring educational attainment and school grades, and IQ and school grades. A possible interpretation of the common genetic influences involving parenting is that parents use their own experience with school in shaping the ways in which they parent their offspring.
In order to better understand the extent to which operationalizations of response to intervention (RTI) overlap and agree in identifying adequate and inadequate responders, an existing database of 399 first grade students was evaluated in relation to cut-points, measures, and methods frequently cited for the identification of inadequate responders to instruction. A series of 543 2x2 measures of association (808 total comparisons) were computed to address the agreement of different operationalizations of RTI. The results indicate that agreement is generally poor and that different methods tend to identify different students as inadequate responders, although agreement for identifying adequate responders is higher. Approaches to the assessment of responder status must use multiple criteria and avoid formulaic decision making.
Previous research shows that children's ability to estimate numbers of items using their Approximate Number System (ANS) predicts later math ability. To more closely examine the predictive role of early ANS acuity on later abilities, we assessed the ANS acuity, math ability, and expressive vocabulary of preschoolers twice, six months apart. We also administered attention and memory span tasks to ask whether the previously reported association between ANS acuity and math ability is ANS-specific or attributable to domain-general cognitive skills. We found that early ANS acuity predicted math ability six months later, even when controlling for individual differences in age, expressive vocabulary, and math ability at the initial testing. In addition, ANS acuity was a unique concurrent predictor of math ability above and beyond expressive vocabulary, attention, and memory span. These findings of a predictive relationship between early ANS acuity and later math ability add to the growing evidence for the importance of early numerical estimation skills.
This study addressed (1) whether there were unique profiles of student self-reported reasons for attending school among 10(th) graders, (2) whether these profiles were differentially associated with late high-school dropout, and (3) whether parent characteristics differed across profiles. Using data from the Educational Longitudinal Study of 2002 (N = 15,362), five latent classes were found. The first class (49%) reported intrinsic, identified/introjected, and external motivations for attending school. The second class (32%) attended for identified/introjected and external reasons, while the third class (11%) reported intrinsic and identified/introjected reasons. The final two classes reported only identified/introjected (5%) or external (4%) motivations. Individuals in the identified/introjected and external classes were at greatest risk of dropping out between 10(th) and 12(th) grade. A host of parenting characteristics differed across class, with students in the intrinsic-identified/introjected-external class displaying the most favorable pattern of results. Implications for dropout prevention and academic promotion programs are discussed.
A core assumption of response to instruction or intervention (RTI) models is the importance of measuring growth in achievement over time in response to effective instruction or intervention. Many RTI models actively monitor growth for identifying individuals who need different levels of intervention. A large-scale (N=23,438), two-year longitudinal study of first grade children was carried out to compare the predictive validity of measures of achievement status, growth in achievement, and their combination for predicting future reading achievement. The results indicate that under typical conditions, measures of growth do not make a contribution to prediction that is independent of measures of achievement status. These results question the validity of a core assumption of RTI models.
Genetic and environmental influences on early reading and spelling at the end of kindergarten and Grade 1 were compared across three twin samples tested in the United States, Australia, and Scandinavia. Proportions of variance due to genetic influences on kindergarten reading were estimated at .84 in Australia, .68 in the U.S., and .33 in Scandinavia. The effects of shared environment on kindergarten reading were estimated at .09 in Australia, .25 in the U.S., and .52 in Scandinavia. A similar pattern of genetic and environmental influences was obtained for kindergarten spelling. One year later when twins in all three samples had received formal literacy instruction for at least one full school year, heritability was similarly high across country, with estimated genetic influences varying between .79 and .83 for reading and between .62 and .79 for spelling. These findings indicate that the pattern of genetic and environmental influences on early reading and spelling development varies according to educational context, with genetic influence increasing as a function of increasing intensity of early instruction. Longitudinal analyses revealed genetic continuity for both reading and spelling between kindergarten and Grade 1 across country. However, a new genetic factor comes into play accounting for independent variance in reading at Grade 1 in the U.S. and Scandinavia, suggesting a change in genetic influences on reading. Implications for response-to-instruction are discussed.
In this study, the relationship between latent constructs of phonological awareness (PA) and rapid automatized naming (RAN) were investigated and related to later measures of reading and spelling in children learning to read in different alphabetic writing systems (i.e., Norwegian/Swedish vs. English). 750 U.S./Australian children and 230 Scandinavian children were followed longitudinally between kindergarten and 2nd grade. PA and RAN were measured in kindergarten and Grade 1, while word recognition, phonological decoding, and spelling were measured in kindergarten, Grade 1, and Grade 2. In general, high stability was observed for the various reading and spelling measures, such that little additional variance was left open for PA and RAN. However, results demonstrated that RAN was more related to reading than spelling across orthographies, with the opposite pattern shown for PA. In addition, tests of measurement invariance show that the factor loadings of each observed indicator on the latent PA factor was the same across U.S./Australia and Scandinavia. Similar findings were obtained for RAN. In general, tests of structural invariance show that models of early literacy development are highly transferable across languages.
Little is known about individual differences in integrating numeric base-rates and qualitative text in making probability judgments. Fuzzy-Trace Theory predicts a preference for fuzzy processing. We conducted six studies to develop the FPPI, a reliable and valid instrument assessing individual differences in this fuzzy processing preference. It consists of 19 probability estimation items plus 4 "M-Scale" items that distinguish simple pattern matching from "base rate respect." Cronbach's Alpha was consistently above 0.90. Validity is suggested by significant correlations between FPPI scores and three other measurers: "Rule Based" Process Dissociation Procedure scores; the number of conjunction fallacies in joint probability estimation; and logic index scores on syllogistic reasoning. Replicating norms collected in a university study with a web-based study produced negligible differences in FPPI scores, indicating robustness. The predicted relationships between individual differences in base rate respect and both conjunction fallacies and syllogistic reasoning were partially replicated in two web-based studies.
The present study examined the components of end of kindergarten writing, using data from 242 kindergartners. Specifically of interest was the importance of spelling, letter writing fluency, reading, and word- and syntax-level oral language skills in writing. The results from structural equation modeling revealed that oral language, spelling, and letter writing fluency were positively and uniquely related to writing skill after accounting for reading skills. Reading skill was not uniquely related to writing once oral language, spelling, and letter writing fluency were taken into account. These findings are discussed from a developmental perspective.
Examined how aspects of social-emotional learning (SEL)-specifically, emotion knowledge, emotional and social behaviors, social problem-solving, and self-regulation-clustered to typify groups of children who differ in terms of their motivation to learn, participation in the classroom, and other indices of early school adjustment and academic success. 275 four-year-old children from private day schools and Head Start were directly assessed and observed in these areas, and preschool and kindergarten teachers provided information on social and academic aspects of their school success. Three groups of children were identified: SEL Risk, SEL Competent-Social/Expressive, and SEL Competent-Restrained. Group members differed on demographic dimensions of gender and center type, and groups differed in meaningful ways on school success indices, pointing to needed prevention/intervention programming. In particular, the SEL Risk group could benefit from emotion-focused programming, and the long-term developmental trajectory of the SEL Competent-Restrained group requires study.
Chaos in the home is a key environment in cognitive and behavioral development. However, we show that children's experience of home chaos is partly genetically mediated. We assessed children's perceptions of household chaos at ages 9 and 12 in 2337 pairs of twins. Using child-specific reports allowed us to use structural equation modeling to explore the genetic and environmental etiology of children's perceptions of chaos. We found that these perceptions are significantly heritable (22%), with the remainder explained by environmental influences. Finding that genes influence children's experience of chaotic environments has far-reaching implications for how we conceptualize the family home and its impact on cognitive and behavioral development.
To better understand early predictors of weak language and academic abilities, we identified children with and without weak abilities at age 8. We then looked back at age 2 vocabulary and word combining, and evaluated these measures as predictors of age 8 outcomes. More than 60% of children with weak oral language abilities at 8 were not late talkers at 2. However, no word combining at 2 was a significant risk factor for poor oral language, reading comprehension, and math outcomes at 8. The association of no word combining with age 8 reading comprehension and math ability was mediated by age 8 oral language ability. The findings indicate that children take different developmental pathways to weak language abilities in middle childhood. One begins with a delayed onset of language. A second begins with language measures in the typical range, but ends with language ability falling well below typical peers.
In an effort to understand the role of interhemispheric transfer in numerical development, we investigated the relationship between children's developing knowledge of numbers and the integrity of their white matter connections between the cerebral hemispheres (the corpus callosum). We used diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) tractography analyses to test the link between the development of the corpus callosum and performance on symbolic and non-symbolic numerical judgment tasks. We were especially interested in the interhemispheric connections of parietal cortex in 6-year-old children, because regions of parietal cortex have been implicated in the development of numerical skills by several prior studies. Our results revealed significant structural differences between children and adults in the fibers of the corpus callosum connecting the left and right parietal lobes. Importantly, these structural differences were predictive of individual differences among children in performance on numerical judgment tasks: children with poor numerical performance relative to their peers exhibited reduced white matter coherence in the fibers passing through the isthmus of the corpus callosum, which connects the parietal hemispheres.
We report on a longitudinal study designed to assess possible sex differences in math achievement, math ability, and math-related tasks during the primary school age years. Participants included over 200 children from one public school district. Annual assessments included measures of math ability, math calculation achievement scores, rapid naming and decoding tasks, visual perception tests, visual motor tasks, and reading skills. During select years of the study we also administered tests of counting and math facts skills. We examined whether girls or boys were overrepresented among the bottom or top performers on any of these tasks, relative to their peers, and whether growth rates or predictors of math-related skills differed for boys and girls. Our findings support the notion that sex differences in math are minimal or nonexistent on standardized psychometric tests routinely given in assessments of primary school age children. There was no persistent finding suggesting a male or female advantage in math performance overall, during any single year of the study, or in any one area of math or spatial skills. Growth rates for all skills, and early correlates of later math performance, were comparable for boys and girls. The findings fail to support either persistent or emerging sex differences on non-specialized math ability measures during the primary school age years.
The collection of articles in this special issue and related studies over the past decade provides a fine example of the substantial progress that has been made in our understanding and remediation of mathematical learning disabilities and difficulties since 1993 (Geary, 1993). The originally proposed procedural and retrieval deficits have been supported and a number sense deficit has been identified. There is evidence for visuospatial contributions to some aspects of mathematical learning, but identification of a core visuospatial deficit underlying some forms of mathematics learning disabilities and difficulties has been elusive. The contributions of working memory to the development and expression of these deficits is more nuanced than I originally proposed as are the brain systems supporting mathematical learning. Although much has been learned about children's difficulties in learning mathematics, but there is just as much and likely more than remains to be discovered.
The purpose of the present study was to explore the 3(rd)-grade cognitive predictors of 5th-grade computational skill with rational numbers and how those are similar to and different from the cognitive predictors of whole-number computational skill. Students (n = 688) were assessed on incoming whole-number calculation skill, language, nonverbal reasoning, concept formation, processing speed, and working memory in the fall of 3(rd) grade. Students were followed longitudinally and assessed on calculation skill with whole numbers and with rational numbers in the spring of 5(th) grade. The unique predictors of skill with whole-number computation were incoming whole-number calculation skill, nonverbal reasoning, concept formation, and working memory (numerical executive control). In addition to these cognitive abilities, language emerged as a unique predictor of rational-number computational skill.
Self-regulated learning (SRL) is a multi-dimensional construct that has been difficult to operationalize using traditional, variable-centered methodologies. The current paper takes a person-centered approach to the study of SRL in a sample of 205 high-school students. Using latent profile analysis on self-reports of seven aspects of SRL, three groups were identified: high SRL, low SRL, and average SRL. Student self-reports of goal orientation were used as validation for the profile solution, with the high academic self- regulation group reporting the highest levels of mastery orientation while the low self-regulation group reported highest levels of avoidant orientation. Profiles were also compared on independently collected, behavioral measures of study behaviors, with the highly self-regulated group tending to study more material and for a longer time than less self-regulated individuals.
The primary purpose of this study was to assess the effects of strategic counting instruction, with and without deliberate practice with those counting strategies, on number combination (NC) skill among students with mathematics difficulties (MD). Students (n = 150) were stratified on MD status (i.e., MD alone vs. MD with reading difficulty) and site (proximal vs. distal to the intervention developer) and then randomly assigned to control (no tutoring) or 1 of 2 variants of NC remediation. Both remediations were embedded in the same validated word-problem tutoring protocol (i.e., Pirate Math). In 1 variant, the focus on NCs was limited to a single lesson that taught strategic counting. In the other variant, 4-6 min of practice per session was added to the other variant. Tutoring occurred for 16 weeks, 3 sessions per week for 20-30 min per session. Strategic counting without deliberate practice produced superior NC fluency compared to control; however, strategic counting with deliberate practice effected superior NC fluency and transfer to procedural calculations compared with both competing conditions. Also, the efficacy of Pirate Math word-problem tutoring was replicated.
Latent growth models were applied to data on multitrial verbal and spatial learning tasks from two independent studies. Although significant individual differences in both initial level of performance and subsequent learning were found in both tasks, age differences were found only in mean initial level, and not in mean learning. In neither task was fluid or crystallized intelligence associated with learning. Although there were moderate correlations among the level parameters across the verbal and spatial tasks, the learning parameters were not significantly correlated with one another across task modalities. These results are inconsistent with the existence of a general (e.g., material-independent) learning ability.
It is frequently assumed that by virtue of their hearing losses, deaf students are visual learners. Deaf individuals have some visual-spatial advantages relative to hearing individuals, but most have been are linked to use of sign language rather than auditory deprivation. How such cognitive differences might affect academic performance has been investigated only rarely. This study examined relations among deaf college students' language and visual-spatial abilities, mathematics problem solving, and hearing thresholds. Results extended some previous findings and clarified others. Contrary to what might be expected, hearing students exhibited visual-spatial skills equal to or better than deaf students. Scores on a Spatial Relations task were associated with better mathematics problem solving. Relations among the several variables, however, suggested that deaf students are no more likely to be visual learners than hearing students and that their visual-spatial skill may be related more to their hearing than to sign language skills.
Reading performance data from 254 pairs of identical (MZ) and 420 pairs of fraternal (DZ) twins, 8.0 to 20.0 years of age, were subjected to multiple regression analyses. An extension of the DeFries-Fulker (DF) analysis (DeFries & Fulker, 1985, 1988) that facilitated inclusion of data from 303 of their nontwin siblings was employed. In addition to providing estimates of heritability, this analysis yields a test of the difference between shared environmental influences for twins versus siblings (Astrom et al., 2011). Results suggest that proband reading deficits are due substantially to genetic factors (.67 ± .07, p < .001), and that shared environmental influences are significantly higher for members of twin pairs than for those of twins and their nontwin siblings (viz., .25 versus .17, p = .02).
The purpose of this study was to determine if event-related potential (ERP) data collected during three reading-related tasks (Letter Sound Matching, Nonword Rhyming, and Nonword Reading) could be used to predict short-term reading growth on a curriculum-based measure of word identification fluency over 19 weeks in a sample of 29 first-grade children. Results indicate that ERP responses to the Letter Sound Matching task were predictive of reading change and remained so after controlling for two previously validated behavioral predictors of reading, Rapid Letter Naming and Segmenting. ERP data for the other tasks were not correlated with reading change. The potential for cognitive neuroscience to enhance current methods of indexing responsiveness in a response-to-intervention (RTI) model is discussed.
Addressing the literacy needs of secondary school students involves efforts to raise the achievement levels of all students and to address specifically the needs of struggling readers. One approach to this problem is to consider the application of a Response to Intervention (RTI) model with older students. We describe an approach to enhanced literacy instruction for middle school students that includes the essential components of any RTI model: universal screening, progress monitoring, and multi-tiered instructional service delivery. We use screening and progress-monitoring tools specifically tied to state accountability tests and a multi-tiered instructional framework that addresses the literacy needs of all middle school students, including struggling readers. Presently a large-scale, multi-site randomized trial is under way to evaluate the feasibility and effectiveness of this RTI model for middle school students.
Recent developmental cognitive neuroscience research has supported the notion that puberty and adolescence are periods of profound socio-emotional development. The current study was designed to investigate whether the onset of puberty marks an increase in the awareness of complex, or "mixed," emotions. Eighty-three female participants (aged 9-16 years) were divided into three groups according to a self-report measure of puberty stage (early-, mid- and post-puberty). Participants were presented with emotional scenarios, and used four linear scales to rate their emotional response to each scenario. Scenarios were designed to evoke social emotions (embarrassment or guilt) or basic emotions (anger or fear), where social emotions are defined as those which require the representation of others' mental states. We measured the relative complexity or "mixedness" of emotional responses, that is, the degree to which participants reported feeling more than one emotion for a given scenario. We found that mixed emotion reporting increased between early- and post-puberty for social emotion scenarios, and showed no relationship with age, whereas there was no change in mixed emotion reporting for basic emotion scenarios across age or puberty groups. This suggests that the awareness of mixed emotions develops during the course of puberty, and that this development is specific to social emotions. Results are discussed in the context of brain development across puberty and adolescence, with speculation regarding the potential implications for education.
This study evaluated how people learn about encoding strategy effectiveness in an associative memory task. Individuals studied two lists of paired associates under instructions to use either a normatively effective strategy (interactive imagery) or a normatively ineffective strategy (rote repetition) for each pair. Questionnaire ratings of imagery effectiveness increased and ratings of repetition effectiveness decreased after task experience, demonstrating new knowledge about strategy effectiveness. Cued recall confidence judgments, measuring confidence in recall accuracy, were almost perfectly correlated with actual recall and strongly correlated with postdictions - estimates of recall for each strategy. A structural regression model revealed that postdictions mediated both changes in second-list predictions and changes in strategy effectiveness ratings, implicating accurate performance estimates based on item-level monitoring as the key to updating strategy knowledge.
Previous studies have shown that environmental influences on school science performance increase in importance from primary to secondary school. Here we assess for the first time the relationship between the science-learning environment and science performance using a genetically sensitive approach to investigate the aetiology of this link. 3000 pairs of 14-year-old twins from the UK Twins Early Development Study reported on their experiences of the science-learning environment and were assessed for their performance in science using a web-based test of scientific enquiry. Multivariate twin analyses were used to investigate the genetic and environmental links between environment and outcome. The most surprising result was that the science-learning environment was almost as heritable (43%) as performance on the science test (50%), and showed negligible shared environmental influence (3%). Genetic links explained most (56%) of the association between learning environment and science outcome, indicating gene-environment correlation.
This first Japanese twin study of early literacy development investigated the extent to which genetic and environmental factors influence individual differences in prereading skills in 238 pairs of twins at 42 months of age. Twin pairs were individually tested on measures of phonological awareness, kana letter name/sound knowledge, receptive vocabulary, visual perception, nonword repetition, and digit span. Results obtained from univariate behavioral-genetic analyses yielded little evidence for genetic influences, but substantial shared-environmental influences, for all measures. Phenotypic confirmatory factor analysis suggested three correlated factors: phonological awareness, letter name/sound knowledge, and general prereading skills. Multivariate behavioral genetic analyses confirmed relatively small genetic and substantial shared environmental influences on the factors. The correlations among the three factors were mostly attributable to shared environment. Thus, shared environmental influences play an important role in the early reading development of Japanese children.
This study used multigroup structural equations to evaluate the possibility that a theory-driven, evidence-based, yearlong reading program for sixth-grade struggling readers moderates the interrelationships among elements of the simple model of reading (i.e., listening comprehension, word reading, and reading comprehension; Hoover & Gough, 1990). Our specific interest was in the relation of theory, program, and evaluation. Our motivating assumptions were that 1) a well-designed, theory-based program affects performance in predictable ways and that 2) treatment effects may be present even when group differences in posttest means are not robust. The analysis sample comprised 327 students, 113 in the business-as-usual condition and 214 in treatment. We pretested students in the fall of sixth grade and collected posttest data in the fall of seventh grade. There were 217 cases in the posttest sample, 47 comparison students and 170 treatment students at posttest. The findings support the possibility that treated sixth-grade students improved in response to an intensive, yearlong intervention, when conceptualizing change in terms of predictable interrelationships of important underlying skills, rather than in terms of group mean differences at posttest. Specifically, the results suggest that verbal knowledge is less proximal to the reading comprehension of students who have become proficient in the use of text processing and reading comprehension strategies.
The study examined differences in students' reported homework value, motivation, and metacognitive strategy use during homework completion among two grades, gender, and three achievement levels. Differences among six homework self-regulation constructs (utility value, intrinsic value, effort, persistence, planning, and self-checking) were also examined. Participants were 330 seventh and 407 eleventh graders from a metropolitan city in China. Chinese students' reported self-regulated learning during homework declined from middle to high school. Whereas students rated utility value and effort high, intrinsic value and self-checking were rated low. Male and female students did not differ in homework self-regulation. Achievement-level differences in homework self-regulation were found in seventh graders, but not in eleventh graders. The pattern of Chinese students' reported homework value, motivation, and metacognitive strategy use were discussed, and instructional implications were offered.
Reyna and Lloyd [Learn Individ Differ 9 (1997) 95.] reviewed a wide range of studies on false-memory effects, and argued that all of the findings supported fuzzy trace theory (FTT) and that many of them challenge the source monitoring framework (SMF). The present paper provides a brief overview of the SMF and corrects a number of misconceptions in Reyna and Lloyd's review, with the aim of providing a more complete understanding of how the SMF can be used to understand false-memory phenomena.
Previous researchers have concluded that males perform better, on average, than females on visual-spatial tasks and quantitative tasks, while females show superior performance on verbal tasks. However, this tri-partite abilities rubric cannot account for the many cognitive tasks that do not conform to this pattern and the wide variety of tasks that are subsumed under each category heading. Males perform more accurately and quickly on some verbal tasks (e.g., verbal analogies), females perform more accurately and quickly on some quantitative tasks (e.g., arithmetic), and many visual-spatial tasks show no sex differences. In order to explain these anomalies, Halpern (1992), suggested that a more useful model for understanding cognitive sex differences would be organized according to the underlying cognitive processes. A process-oriented model based on what people do when they perform a cognitive task was investigated. We concluded that categorizing sex differences according to the underlying cognitive processes and utilizing recent advances in cognitive theory and measurement, allows us to explain anomalies in the research literature and provides a more meaningful approach to investigating individual differences in cognition.
Metacognition's roles in self-regulation of cognitive tactics and strategies is explored in relation to five sites where individual difference factors are likely to be observed and affect performance: domain knowledge, knowledge of tactics and strategies, performance of tactics and strategies, regulation of tactics and strategies, and global dispositions. Though the current literature is sparse, tentative hypotheses about kinds of individual differences and their impact are proposed. Directions for future research are noted concerning the need for more sophisticated metacognitively-based models of SRL as a complex collection of individual differences, and some suggestions are made about methodologies for investigating complex, metacognitively regulated approaches to learning.
We examined whether strategies of memorization, transfer through elaboration, and metacognition accounted for reading, science, and mathematics achievement across 34 countries. 158,848 fifteen-year-olds completed a reading literacy test and a questionnaire. Of these students, 88,401 completed a science test, and 88,590 completed a mathematics test. We analyzed the data using multi-level regressions of Rasch-estimated test scores and modeled differences across countries and across schools. Students who reported using memorization strategies often scored lower in all subjects. Transfer through elaboration was not significantly linked to any achievement scores. Lastly, students reporting greater use of metacognitive strategies often scored higher. Compared to students in individualistic societies, to achievement scores of students in collective cultures were linked more strongly to schoolmates' use of metacognitive strategies and less strongly to their own use of metacognitive strategies. These results highlight how cultural contexts can moderate the links between adolescents' learning strategies and their academic achievement.
Self-concept is linked to student achievement in many domains. In this study, we examined reading self-concept's (RSC) and RSC calibration accuracy's links to reading achievement across different contexts via multi-level analyses of 34 countries' 158,848 fifteen-year-olds' reading tests and questionnaire responses. Students with higher RSC, higher calibration accuracy (of RSC to their reading scores) or underconfidence (relative to their reading scores) had higher reading scores. RSC was more strongly linked to reading scores in countries that were richer, less equal, more collective, less uncertainty averse, less hierarchical, or less rigid regarding gender roles. Calibration accuracy was also more strongly linked to reading achievement in more hierarchical, individualistic, or uncertainty-tolerant countries. In more individualistic countries, underconfident students were more likely to have above average reading achievement. Hence, excessive confidence does not necessarily benefit students, especially in more individualistic countries.
This study examined how cultural values and family cultural capital were linked to adolescents' motivation and reading achievement using multilevel analyses on reading tests and questionnaire responses of 193,841 fifteen-year-olds in 41 countries. In countries that valued more rigid gender roles, girls had lower reading achievement than girls in other countries. Also, the link between extrinsic motivation and achievement was weaker for both boys and girls in more masculine countries than those in other countries, supporting the view that discouraging students from their preferred non-traditional career tracks reduces competition for the remaining students. This reduces the impact of extrinsic motivation on reading achievement for both types of students. Students with more family cultural capital (cultural possessions and cultural communication) had higher interest in reading, extrinsic motivation, effort and perseverance, and higher reading achievement than other students. These findings can inform education policy to improve students' reading achievement.
Data from a variety of nonhuman species indicate that early hormones have permanent effects on the sexual differentiation of the brain and behavior, including learning abilities. Hormones also affect the sexual differentiation of human cognitive abilities. Evidence from a variety of human clinical conditions and normal samples suggests that moderate to high levels of androgens in the prenatal and early postnatal periods facilitate the development of spatial ability. There is not enough information to determine whether early hormones influence other aspects of cognition which show sex differences, such as verbal fluency, perceptual speed, and memory. Current research is directed to understanding the behavioral and neural mechanisms underlying hormonal influences on cognition.
Current textbooks report that men's visual–spatial skills are superior to women's. However, the research is not consistent with this sweeping generalization. We hypothesized that sex differences would be more pronounced on “impossible problems” (mirror images) than possible rotations. We also hypothesized that males' performance would be adversely affected by visual interference, whereas females' performance would be adversely affected by auditory interference. Ninety-five college students (25 males, 70 females) viewed images of a train station from various perspectives, including some that were impossible rotations of the original image. There were no sex differences in accuracy or response time on the possible rotation problems, but males were more accurate than females on impossible problems. Neither auditory nor visual interference affected accuracy. The alleged sex difference in mental rotation problems is largely due to the use of problems that are not actually mental rotation problems.
Extensive research within the field of learning and individual differences focuses upon the relationship between general intelligence and process measures derived from elementary cognitive tasks (ECTs). This emphasis has ignored data indicating that cognitive abilities are best described by three levels (or strata). It has also been suggested that mental speed is a unitary construct, although it is more likely to have a complex structure. To address shortcomings evident in this literature, a multivariate investigation (N = 179) was conducted. Factor analysis of 25 psychometric indices gave seven factors postulated under the theory of fluid (Gf) and crystallized (Gc) intelligence. Correlations between cognitive abilities and parameters derived from 11 ECTs indicated that Gf (alone) was related to processing speed. This relationship is seemingly dependent upon experimental manipulations of task complexity. Regarding the factorial structure of mental speed, the results were unequivocal: Broad second-order factors may be derived from both ECTs and psychometric tests. These constructs are independent from abilities defined by accuracy scores and collectively define a general cognitive speed factor. Implications of these findings are discussed. It would appear that mental speed is more intricate than proposed, and that cognitive complexity (reflected in stimulus-response compatibility effects) plays a crucial role in its ontogenesis. In addition, several explanatory models linking intelligence to processing speed are untenable. It is likely that the search for a basic process of intelligence by means of mental speed frameworks (alone) is misguided.
Experimental design variables take on particular importance when inferences are made about gender differences in cognitive abilities, especially when conclusions are derived from standardized tests administered to very large samples. Problems in the representativeness of the samples of subjects and test items, in test reliability and factor purity, in the interpretation of effect sizes, and heterogeneity of variance can inadvertently bias conclusions drawn from scores of females and males on psychometric tests. Empirical research in this highly politicized area is reviewed with an emphasis on those factors that could cause gender-related differences to be over- or underestimated.
Three studies are reported. In the first study, changes in performance on four spatial tests were examined for eighty-three subjects who attempted 1,200 three-dimensional rotation problems. Gains in accuracy in solving these problems averaged over 1 SD from the first to the last block of trials. Gains on the reference tests were also substantial, ranging from over 1 SD on a speeded rotation test to approximately .5 SD on a more difficult form-board test. In the second study, fifty subjects were administered the same spatial tests, but without practice on rotation problems. The large gains in Study 1 appeared to be attributable to practice on the tests. In the third study, 385 subjects attempted 144 mental synthesis problems. Subjects were randomly assigned to a feedback or to a no-feedback condition. Females in the feedback condition showed the greatest reduction in errors from the first to the second half of the test. However, improvements were noted only for a specific type of foil. Results of all three studies are discussed in terms of Anderson's (1983) model of skill learning and fact acquisition.