Exploring cognitive profiles of children with learning difficulties

  • Author / Creator
    Tonn, Ryan
  • This study compares the role of cognitive processes in children diagnosed with learning disabilities (LD) through the traditional aptitude-achievement discrepancy model with students diagnosed on the basis of their low achievement alone. Historically, in North American settings, LD has been diagnosed when an individual’s achievement on standardized tests in reading, mathematics, or written expression is substantially lower than the expected level for age, schooling, and level of intelligence (American Psychiatric Association, 2000). As this conceptualization has come under increasing scrutiny, alternate identification methods such as the low achievement/non-discrepant method have been gaining support in the literature (e.g. Siegel, 1999; Stanovich, 2005). A secondary objective of this study is to determine whether identifiable differences exist between the cognitive profiles (WISC-IV) of students diagnosed with reading disability (RD) and mathematics disability (MD). This study also addresses whether the WISC-IV Working Memory Index can be used to differentiate between various categories of students with LD. The findings of this study indicate that the discrepant (DLD) and non-discrepant (NDLD) learning disability (LD) groups could not be distinguished by the WISC-IV Working Memory Index (WMI). Amongst the overall sample of students with LD, those with average or above working memory scores (high) could be differentiated from those with below average working memory scores (low) on the WISC-IV Perceptual Reasoning Index (PRI). Students with LD who had low WMI scores could also be differentiated from those with high WMI scores on four WIAT-II subtests. WMI scores could not be used to differentiate students with Reading Disability (RD), Mathematics Disability (MD) or Generalized Learning Disability (GLD). However, differences between these three LD groups were found on the WISC-IV Verbal Comprehension Index (VCI), Perceptual Reasoning Index (PRI), and marginally on the Processing Speed Index (PSI). Finally, the four WISC-IV Index scores were able to correctly predict group membership in the RD, MD, and GLD groups approximately 70% of the time.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Spring 2011
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
  • Department
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Pei, Jacqueline (Educational Psychology)
    • Buck, George (Educational Psychology)
    • Mrazik, Martin (Educational Psychology)
    • Alfano, Dennis (Psychology, University of Regina)
    • Leroy, Carol (Elementary Education)