Communication Sciences and Disorders Publications


The consistency and cognitive predictors of children's oral language, reading, and math learning profiles

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Learning and Individual Differences



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© 2019 Efforts to understand learning disorders in children by focusing on specific domains and within restricted ability ranges have failed to identify consistent and stable learning profiles. Given evidence for dimensional distribution of oral language, reading, and mathematical skills among those identified with and without learning disorders, examining learning across a range of abilities and domains should provide a better estimate of learning profiles. The present study examined the 1-year stability of cross-domain learning profiles and associated cognitive characteristics of 327 children. Results revealed highly stable profiles with 95% of participants remaining in the same learning profiles across data years. Generally similar performance across domains was observed for three profiles (below average, average, above average) comprising 63% of the sample, with relatively specific differences in oral language or reading characterizing the remaining profiles. Cognitive measures and teacher ratings accurately predicted learning profile in about 55% of participants either at the time of testing or in the following year. The most effective models for categorizing learning profiles all included teacher ratings of reading. Cognitive measures of verbal working memory, verbal intelligence, phonological awareness, symbolic comparison, and visuospatial working memory were also important contributors to classification. The findings indicate that examining learning across domains, abilities, and time has the potential to inform our conceptualization of learning disorders and associated cognitive strengths and weaknesses.

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