International Perspectives: Volume 20


Table of contents

(15 chapters)

At the beginning of children's school careers, large differences already exist between children in their mathematical skills and knowledge. Preparatory math skills such as counting and Piagetian operations are important predictors of later math learning disabilities. However, little research has been conducted on the underlying processes that could explain or predict these preparatory math skills. Traditionally, intelligence has been viewed, next to language (vocabulary), as an important predictor of school success in general and math performance in specific. However, recent studies suggest that other, more fluid, domain-general cognitive processes, such as working memory and executive functions, are better predictors than traditional IQ scores. This chapter reports on two studies in which the relations between early mathematics and different working memory components are investigated. In the first study, the relations between the Early Numeracy Test (ENT) and five working memory aspects have been studied in a correlational study with 240 kindergartners. The following working memory components can be distinguished: the central executive controlling system, the phonological component, and the visuospatial component. In this study, three distinctive executive functions were measured: inhibition, shifting, and planning. The results show that phonological working memory, shifting, and planning are highly related to children's early math competence. Together, these functions can explain 50% of the total variance in early math. In a second study under 111 kindergartners, it was found that the scores on the ENT are moderately related to the executive function planning. Contrary to the expectations, intelligence was more related to preparatory math skills than planning. However, in a short training study with 15 low performing children, it was found that children's planning scores could better predict their improvement than intelligence: children low in planning did not profit as much from the training as children with higher planning capacities. The results of these studies emphasize the need for further research on the relations between working memory processes and preparatory math skills. These processes seem to play an important role in the origin of math learning difficulties. The results of the second study also suggest that remediation of early math learning difficulties should be adapted according to children's cognitive profiles regarding working memory and executive functions.

Literacy research in Norway has focused on many areas. Dyslexia has been one main area for many years. The last years’ many approaches have been taken to understand how reading disabilities can be prevented and to understand the connection between the spoken and written language. A school reform reducing the age of admission to school from seven to six from 1997 has had the effect of stimulating research in the field of reading development.

Norwegian orthography is described as semi-transparent. Studies of Norwegian children show that even children with dyslexia break the alphabetic code rather easily. Also, Norway is an advanced, rich country with a clear commitment to equity. These are some reasons why Norway should get good results on international reading achievement tests. The results from different international reading assessments, however, have worried the Norwegian Government. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has clearly stated that Norway has a job to do in terms of equity. In most reading achievement tests, Norway shows a wider spread of outcomes than many other OECD countries. The Norwegian school reform of 1997 has not been a great success in the area of children's literacy development. The international results and the evaluation of the reform have led to a range of initiatives from the Government and to yet another reform with a new curriculum. In this new curriculum, there is a somewhat clearer focus on benchmarks to be achieved. There is, however, little concentration on what to do when children fall behind their peers for no apparent reason. The school authorities hope, however, that the initiatives that are taken will make a difference.

Reforms to teacher training in England, undertaken in the 1990s, significantly increased the proportion of time that student teachers spent in classrooms engaged in ‘on the job’ training. While this provides greater opportunity for students to develop practical knowledge, there is an inherent danger that an undue preoccupation with the development of ‘survival skills’ will reduce the fostering of broader and deeper understandings about the role of important historical, sociological and cultural factors upon children's motivation, behaviour and learning. This chapter draws upon a number of comparative international studies, particularly in Russia and the US, to illustrate the benefits of an ecosystemic analysis of human behaviour in which student behaviour is considered, not only in terms of everyday school-based practices, but also in relation to broader social, economic and historical factors.

Reading comprehension is a critical area of instruction for all students, but particularly for students with learning disabilities (LD) that impede their ability to understand what they read. This synthesis includes 30 intervention studies on reading comprehension for students with LD conducted in several countries and all regions of the United States. Specifically, the current review focuses on the efficacy of these strategies across grade levels, with various types of reading materials, and in conjunction with other instructional components that have potential to enhance instructional benefits to students. Results suggest that reading comprehension instruction is effective for improving the skills of this population.

Goal orientations and classroom goal structures proved to be highly predictive of classroom-related behaviors and academic achievement. The purpose of the present study was to predict students’ classroom behaviors from goal orientations and classroom goal structures and compare those predictions across students with and without learning problems. Participants were 209 typical students and 18 students with learning difficulties/disabilities (LD). Individual goal orientations and perceptions of classrooms’ goal structures were assessed using self-reports. Student behaviors were assessed over five consecutive days during school hours. Using Multilevel Random Coefficient Modeling (MRCM) procedures, results indicated that mastery approach goals and a mastery goal structure were positive predictors of positive affect, student engagement and students’ perceptions of reinforcement from teachers. Mastery avoidance goals were a negative predictor of positive affective states and a positive predictor of both negative affective states and perceptions of punishment. Last, performance approach goals and a performance goal structure exerted deleterious effects on students’ positive classroom behaviors, particularly for students with LD. When matching mastery goals with a mastery goal structure, effects were significantly more pronounced, and in the desired direction, compared to the matching of performance goals with a performance goal structure. Implications of the findings for practice are discussed.

In this chapter, we present the results of a study designed to investigate: (a) the family relations of children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), (b) the sources of stress parents in families of children with this disorder experience and (c) the possible modulating role that ADHD subtype and comorbid oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) have on parenting stress level. One hundred and sixty seven families, divided into two groups, an ADHD group (N=114) and a control group (N=53), participated in the study. Parents of both groups completed a Semi-Structured Interview that gathered information on socio-demographics, family structure and the presence of oppositional behaviour symptoms, as well as the Parenting Stress Index Questionnaire (Abidin, 1990) to evaluate parent stress. The results showed that the relations of children with ADHD with their parents and siblings were significantly more tense than those of children without this disorder with their families. Parenting stress was higher in parents with ADHD children than in parents of non-ADHD children in most scales relating to parent personal variables, with even more sharp differences in measures of parenting stress that are triggered by the child's behaviour. Finally, our results evidenced how the ADHD subtype and ODD comorbidity influence the level of stress in parents. The results of the study suggest that interventions focused only on the behaviour of ADHD children are not likely to improve the developmental course of the disorder in the long run.

Performances in psychological tests are frequently influenced by the socio-cultural level (SCL). Therefore, valid strategies to assess SCL must be used. Dimensions of SCL are presented (socio-economic status, cultural capital, and social capital) and available strategies for their assessment are described. Problems in the SCL evaluation and their effects in research and clinical fields are discussed, particularly in the case of children with learning and behavioral disabilities.

Problems with learning disabilities are life affecting (Murray, C., Goldstein, D. E., & Nourse, S. (2000). The postsecondary school attendance and completion rates of high school graduates with learning disabilities. Learning Disabilities Research and Practice, 15, 182–186; Westby, 2000; Rojewski, 1999a; Hall et al., 2002). The impact of poor mathematical skills on employment prospects is even bigger than the influence of poor reading skills (Dowker, 2005). After an introduction on the definition, prevalence and impact, gender and birth order, subtypes, comorbidity and assessment of cognition and metacognition in mathematical learning disabilities, we will focus on the features of mathematical learning disabilities in adolescence and adulthood and on the STI(mulation), CO(mpensation), R(emediation) and DI(spensation) (STICORDI) devices to help students with mathematical learning disabilities. With such devices “reasonable” adjustments are provided to ensure that disabled students are not placed at a substantial disadvantage compared to non-disabled students.

The study of 5-year-old children with symptoms of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is important because it provides an opportunity to discover early intervention strategies for children who are expected to develop severe problems later in life. This chapter presents a research program intended to develop assessment and interventions tools for kindergarten children. Specifically, we present two rating scales (one for teachers and one for parents), two neuropsychological tests, and an intervention program intended to promote controlled attention and working memory. Finally, we present an investigation, with a small group of 5-year-old children with ADHD symptoms, validating the program.

This chapter develops theoretical aspects of an investigation conducted in Mendoza, Argentina, at the national University of Cuyo (UNCuyo), concerning the learning and development of social abilities on challenged students attending special education schools. First, the concepts of social abilities/social competence are analyzed; the next step is to approach the complexity of the overall evaluation, and, more specifically the evaluation of social abilities in educational contexts. An instrument of qualitative evaluation is presented. Finally, we present an analysis of social abilities in the communicative interaction on students with communicational difficulties and recommend guidelines for school activities.

This chapter is an overview of the status of international education with regard to services for special needs students and more specifically learning disabled students in international schools. While some 1,000+schools describe themselves as international, being international does not necessarily describe the services provided to students and families, the philosophical stance of the school or school board, nor does it describe the intent of being international for teachers and students alike. International schools have a very mixed history of serving special education students. This chapter provides a review of the situation for learning disabled and special needs students in international schools, examines the current status of services and provides examples of sponsored projects, professional development programs and international schools created to embrace special needs students.

This study synthesizes some preliminary observations made by the clinicians of the Audiology and Phoniatrics Department of Padua-Treviso University on the development of numerical intelligence in deaf children who received cochlear implantation at an early age. This study collected data from clinical observation and standardized instruments, such as Leiter-R and PRCR-Numeri, on a group of 11 preschool deaf children. These data were then compared with those obtained from language performances and audiometric examinations. It is generally recognized that a normal cognitive profile corresponds to scaled scores between 85 and 122. Specifically, the Numerical Intelligence competence is lower in deaf children than in normally hearing children. In particular, the most obvious difference is in the “number comparison” performance, which involves mental operations. In our study, we observed a meaningful connection between Intelligence Quotient (IQ) and the Fluid Reasoning (Fr) score, that is, the ability to solve non-verbal problems independent of previous learning. These results appear to demonstrate a pronounced connectivity of the subcomponents which, taken together, produce visual-spatial functionality.

Thirty-two qualitative research reports on co-teaching in inclusive classrooms, identified through a comprehensive literature search, are reviewed. Studies have included significant diversity in grade level, geographical location, setting, and took place in three different countries. Overall, teachers and administrators reported a high degree of satisfaction with co-teaching. However, a number of needs were also addressed, including administrative support, appropriate caseloads, planning time, student skill level, and co-teacher compatibility. Implications for research and practice are discussed.

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Book series
Advances in Learning and Behavioral Disabilities
Series copyright holder
Emerald Publishing Limited
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