Missouri longitudinal study of mathematical development and disability
Author: Geary, David C.
Source: BJEP Monograph Series II, Number 7 - Understanding number development and difficulties, Issue data not provided , pp. 31-49(19)
Publisher: British Psychological Society
Abstract:Background. Of all the students, 7% will experience a severe learning deficit in mathematics before completing high school. These students with a mathematical learning disability (MLD) are joined by another 510% of students with less severe learning difficulties. Aims. The goal is to identify the core deficits that define MLD and mathematical difficulties; identify the cognitive systems that underlie these deficits; and, to develop measures to identify at-risk children. Method. The Missouri project is a prospective kindergarten to 9th grade study of more than 200 students' mathematical growth and learning. Students are administered standardized achievement tests and mathematical cognition tasks once a year. A comprehensive working memory battery was administered in 1st and 5th grade, and classroom attention assessed in 2nd to 4th grade. Results. Initial results indicate that children with MLD perform about 1 SD below average on working memory measures, even when IQ is controlled, and perform below average on mathematical cognition tasks that involve number processing and representation, execution of arithmetic procedures, and recall of arithmetic facts. Children with learning difficulties have average IQ and working memory test performance but are below average on number processing tasks and recall of arithmetic facts. Performance on 1st grade mathematical cognition tasks is predictive of MLD status in later grades. Conclusions. Children with MLD have broad working memory deficits and specific deficits in their sense of number that delays their learning of formal mathematics. Children with learning difficulties do not have working memory deficits, but they do have a poor number sense and difficulties recalling arithmetic facts.
Publication date: 1 March 2010