Working memory and processing speed as correlates of math skills in adults with learning disabilities by Zimmermann, Ute, Ph.D., Alliant International University, Los Angeles, 2008, 122 pages; AAT 3317770
Math skills are required in every walk of life throughout a lifespan. The foundation for mathematical performance is innate and there appears to be a natural tendency for humans to build upon this foundation from simple arithmetic to more complex algorithms. Until recently the underlying mechanisms for math functioning have only been sparsely studied, especially in adults. The purpose of this correlational study was to identify the relationship between specific neuropsychological abilities and math skills in adults identified with a learning disability through the use of well established, rigorously standardized, and widely used test batteries, namely the WAIS-III and the Woodcock Johnson-III Tests of Achievement. Furthermore the Intake Self Report and the Academic Attribute Survey II (AAS-II) were utilized to investigate if students tend to over-report their difficulties in math performance when compared to their actual ability level.
This study utilized archival data from a community college in an suburban area of southern California. One hundred fifty participants met eligibility criteria for inclusion in the study. The participant sample consisted of 76 male and 74 females, with ethnic diverse backgrounds. All participants met eligibility criteria for learning disabilities as described by Title 5 regulations that govern the California Community Colleges in accordance with the State Education Code and Federal legislative guidelines. Analysis of data revealed that students tend to over-estimate their perceived difficulties in math when compared to their actual ability level. Correlational analysis indicated significant correlations between the WAIS-III Processing Speed Index and each of the three subtests of the WJ-III Broad Math Cluster. Significant correlations were also revealed between WAIS-III Working Memory Index and each of the three subtests of the WJ-III Broad Math Cluster. A comparison in magnitude of correlations revealed that working memory was the dominant factor for math performance in adults, with processing speed secondary to working memory. Exploratory analyses were performed to investigate the role of gender. No significant correlations emerged between the Processing Speed Index and any of the three Broad Math Cluster subtests for the female participants. Findings are discussed with recommendations for future research.
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