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The Role of Executive Function in Mathematics and Science Learning Difficulties of Students with Disabilities

Paul Morgan

PI: Paul Morgan

National Science Foundation 1644355
Administered in: College of Education

Abstract:

Executive function (EF) deficits may explain lower math and science achievement for students with and without disabilities and therefore may be essential targets for intervention. Current research in this area often relies on cross-sectional studies using smaller samples of middle and high school students and so this study fills a critical gap by examining relationships between executive function and math and science achievement with younger students in a large, nationally representative longitudinal data set. The study will also explore how performance in these subjects could be negatively impacting students' self-efficacy and views toward math and science. The project's findings will inform screening, monitoring, and intervention efforts for students with or at risk for disabilities when these efforts may be most effective.

This project will use the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Kindergarten Cohort (ECLS-K) data set to investigate whether executive function deficits are related to lower mathematics and science achievement for at-risk students and students with disabilities. The researchers will use growth mixture modeling to identify early trajectories of EF and science and math achievement. The ECLS-K dataset is a large, nationally representative cohort of students followed from Kindergarten until the end of fifth grade. While controlling for a number of confounding variables, the researchers will use multivariate regression models to identify potential areas of STEM intervention.