Saturday, April 29, 2006

Are boys at an eductional disadvantage due to slower cognitive processing speed? New Intelligence research article

Interesting article in the journal Intelligence, based on analysis of the, WJ (1977), WJ-R (1989) and WJ III (2001) nationally representative norm samples, that suggests that males may be at a disadvantage in learning due to generally slower cognitive processing speed (Gs as per CHC theory) than females. Given my WJ III authorship status (and potential conflict of interest), I'm only posting the reference, abstract, one summary comment from the article, and a URL link (so readers can read and form their own conclusions).

The important question from this study, which I hope stimulates some comments at this blog and/or discussion over on the CHC listserv, is "what are the educational implications of this finding?"
  • Camarata, S. & Woodcock, R. (2006). Sex differences in processing speed: Developmental effects in males and females. Intelligence, 34, 231-252. (click here to view)
  • The purpose of this study was to compare the cognitive abilities and selected achievement performance of females and males across the lifespan on standardization samples of broad cognitive abilities in 1987 participants (1102 females, 885 males) from the WJ III, 4253 participants (2014 males, 2239 females) from the WJ-R, and 4225 participants (1964 males and 2261 females) from the WJ-77. Preschool through adult cohorts were included in the analyses. The results indicated that males scored significantly lower on estimates of Gs (processing speed) in all three normative samples, with the largest difference evident in adolescent subgroups. A secondary finding was significantly higher scores for males on estimates of comprehension knowledge (Gc) in all three samples. Follow-up analyses of the achievement tests also indicated lower performance for males on speeded tests such as reading fluency and writing fluency. There was a high degree of concordance across tests and no sex difference was observed in overall estimates of general intellectual ability (GIA) on the WJ III. The educational implications of these findings are discussed with an emphasis on the adolescent (high school) cohort.
Additional comment from authors regarding potential educational implications:
  • "...reading and writing fluency were significantly lower in males in the data from achievement testing, a difference that is likely related, at least in part, to the processing speed difference. Consider that many classroom activities, including testing, are directly or indirectly related to processing speed. The higher performance in females may contribute to a classroom culture that favors females, not because of teacher bias Hoff-Sommers, 1998) but because of inherent sex differences in processing speed and the relationship this parameter has with classroom activities and potential learning differences in males and females."
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