Social-Cognitive Underpinnings of Math Difficulties in Diverse Children

Name of Award

APDC Faculty Research & Scholarly Activities Grant

Date Awarded

Summer 6-1-2016



Project Description

Maria Gautier, PhD, Assistant Professor, received a $6,025.00 award for her project Socio-Ecological and Social-Cognitive Underpinnings of Math Difficulties in Diverse Children. Diverse children (i.e, racially, ethnically, income, and/or linguistially diverse) are at-risk for a host of negative life outcomes, including high dropout rates, unemployment, mortgage foreclosure, and substandard health. Math proficiency has been shown to be an even stronger predictor of later success than reading proficiency, making early math proficiency a particularly valuable target outcome. Research has shown that children from diverse backgrounds have lower math proficiency than their non-minority peers, however, the sources of this achievement gap are not well understood, particularly in children below eighth grade. Therefore, there is a need to understand the different influences on underrepresented children's math development in order to guide early identification and early intervention. This pilot study will investigate various influences on the math development of diverse children from third through fifth grade. The purpose of this study is threefold. First, we will pilot scales that have traditionally being used with adolescents to measure socio-ecological factors (e.g., ethnic and gender identity, bias, sense of belonging and support) with children between the third and fifth grades. Secondly, we will investigate specific socio-cognitive (e.g., quantitative reasoning, language, math anxiety) and social-ecological (e.g., identity, bias) learning processes that may function as reliable early indicators of math difficulties in underrepresented children. Finally, we will begin to generate hypotheses about classroom and parental characteristics that may promote the early math abilities of children who are at-risk for subsequent difficulties.

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