Thursday, June 30, 2011

Research Brief: Where kids live may influence "how" they do math

Casey, B. M., Dearing, E., Vasilyeva, M., Ganley, C. M., & Tine, M. (2011). Spatial and Numerical Predictors of Measurement Performance: The Moderating Effects of Community Income and Gender. Journal of Educational Psychology, 103(2), 296-311.

Spatial reasoning and numerical predictors of measurement performance were investigated in 4th graders from low-income and affluent communities. Predictors of 2 subtypes of measurement performance (spatial–conceptual and formula based) were assessed while controlling for verbal and spatial working memory. Consistent with prior findings, students from the affluent community outperformed students from the low-income community on all measures examined. More importantly, the study revealed different patterns of relations between cognitive skills and academic performance in the 2 communities. Specifically, spatial skills were related to measurement performance in the affluent but not in the low-income community. These findings demonstrate that socioeconomic context impacts not only children's levels of performance but also their capacity to apply basic cognitive skills, like spatial reasoning, to their academic performance.

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