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  • Vandenbroucke, Loren; Verschueren, Karine; Desoete, Annemie; Aunio, Pirjo; Ghesquiere, Pol; Baeyens, Dieter (2018)
    Working memory is important for a variety of life domains,. including for children's school functioning. As such, it is crucial to understand its development, antecedents and consequences. The current study investigates the development of different working memory components (phonological loop, visuospatial sketchpad, central executive), the influence of different aspects of the teacher-student relationship (closeness, conflict, dependency) and its predictive value for academic achievement (reading, spelling, mathematics) across the transition from kindergarten to first grade. The sample consisted of 107 kindergarten children. Working memory tasks were administered at the end of kindergarten and first grade. Teachers reported on teacher-student relationship quality in the middle of first grade. Standardized tests were used to assess academic achievement at the end of first grade. Results indicate moderate to large increases in the phonological loop and visuospatial sketchpad and large gains in the central executive. Dependency of the student towards the teacher significantly predicted visuospatial sketchpad performance at the end of first grade. Reading was significantly predicted by the visuospatial sketchpad and phonological loop in kindergarten, while for spelling the visuospatial sketchpad was important. Finally, mathematics was predicted by performance on the phonological loop and the visuospatial sketchpad. The current study indicates the importance of the affective quality of the teacher-student relationship for working memory performance, which in turn is important for academic achievement. It is therefore critical to attend to the early detection and prevention or intervention of working memory problems in the classroom in order to prevent future academic problems. Additionally, maintaining a positive relationship with students and encouraging their independent exploration may be important when preventing such problems, complementary to cognitive or other types of training and intervention.
  • Guo, Jiesi; Wang, Ming-Te; Ketonen, Elina E.; Eccles, Jacquelynne Sue; Salmela-Aro, Katariina (2018)
    This study used variable- and pattern-centered approaches to better capture the impact of adolescents’ joint developmental trajectories of subjective task values (STVs) in three domains (Finnish, math and science, and social subject) from grades 9 to 11 on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) aspirations at four years postsecondary school and STEM participation at six years postsecondary school (N = 849 Finnish youth; 52.1% female; 99% native Finnish). Results showed that while adolescents’ average STVs in different domains remained stable, three differential joint STV trajectories emerged across domains. Individual changes of STVs in one domain shaped STVs in other domains to form unique relative STV hierarchies within subgroups that impacted long-term STEM aspirations and participation. Gender differences in STV trajectory profile distributions partially explained the overall underrepresentation of women in STEM fields. This study is among the first to incorporate multiple domains and explore how STVs fluctuate over time in both homogeneous and heterogeneous fashions. These findings underscore the importance of examining heterogeneity in motivational trajectories across domains.
  • Lopez-Pedersen, Anita; Mononen, Riikka; Korhonen, Johan; Aunio, Pirjo; Melby-Lervåg, Monica (2021)
    This study investigated the psychometric properties of the Early Numeracy Screener. The Early Numeracy Screener is a teacher-administered, paper-and-pencil test measuring counting skills, numerical relational skills, and basic arithmetic skills. Three hundred and sixty-six first graders took the Early Numeracy Screener at the beginning of the school year. Confirmatory factor analysis was conducted in order to examine whether the screening tool was identified as a one-factor model or a three-factor model. The confirmatory factor analysis found evidence for the three-factor model, establishing construct validity. Evidence for criterion-related validity was found in crosstabulation and correlation with the national test measuring overall mathematics performance taken towards the end of the school year. The Early Numeracy Screener may serve as an indicator of young children's performance in early numeracy. The brevity and ease of use of the Early Numeracy Screener make it suitable for classroom instructional settings.