Although most of us experience early education in a typical classroom setting, we all learn differently. For those with neurodevelopmental conditions like ADHD, dyslexia, and autism, it can be particularly hard to pick up new skills and knowledge in a classroom. In this study, researchers at the MRC CBU looked at how variations in children’s memory and attention abilities affect the way they learn. One important feature of this study was the fact that it was transdiagnostic: rather than putting priority on participants’ diagnostic labels (or lack thereof), researchers looked at how learning differs across a diverse range of cognitive profiles. After giving 805 children (aged 5 to 18 years) an array of cognitive assessments, the researchers narrowed down three main points of variation in the sample: language processing, processing speed, and executive function. By looking at how each of these measures relate to specific skills, such as maths and literacy, the team showed that these three cognitive pathways are useful in predicting learning difficulties in children. As we increase our understanding of how children learn, we will be able to help those who struggle at school in a more targeted way.
Citation: Holmes, J., Guy, J., Kievit, R., Bryant, A., Mareva, S., & Gathercole, S. (2020). Cognitive dimensions of learning in children with problems in attention, learning, and memory. Journal of Educational Psychology