Friday, October 19, 2007

Cognitive efficiency (working memory+Gs) = necessary but not sufficient constructs for learning?

As promised, here are a few thoughts from my Friday afternoon synaptic symphony of musings related to Geary's article on math learning.

On page 482 Geary talks about the core cognitive mechanisms (of working memory and Gf) being mental speed of information processing and attentional control (which I interpret as Engle, Conway et al.'s executive controlled attention). The overlap of these constructs with working memory and Gs (what we, in the land of the WJ III, call cognitive efficiency) is very interesting. In recent presentations I've referred to these core abilities as domain-general recent CHC research suggests they are important for learning across almost all domains of human learning, esp. during initial stages of learning. These contrast with domain-specific abilities that appear more specific to learning in specific achievement domains (e.g., Ga and reading; Gf and mathematics).

I like his statement that these mechanisms are "necessary but not sufficient" for the development of secondary abilities (e.g., mathematics; reading). This makes sense. Domain general cognitive efficiency may be a set of necessary, but not sufficient, abilities for learning. They are necessary to learn, but the development of secondary abilities (such as reading and math) may require the addition of other abilities (Glr, Gf, Ga, Gv, etc.)) above and beyond cognitive efficiency.

This also connects with some causal models I've run where working memory, memory span, and Gs are specified as causal mechanism behind other cognitive abilities and achievement.

Just some Friday afternoon musings and thoughts as I "connect some dots" in my quirky store of acquired knowledge.

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