The role of fluid reasoning in learning disability classification in a pediatric clinical population
Evans, Yolanda L
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ABSTRACT YOLANDA EVANS The role of fluid reasoning in learning disability classification in a pediatric clinical population August 2019 Fluid reasoning is a critical cognitive/neurocognitive ability that provides the foundation for the development of other cognitive as well as academic skills. Children with a variety of disabilities such as Specific Learning Disability (SLD) and Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) often have fluid reasoning deficits that impair their ability to function at school, even during early years. An understanding of the relationship among cognitive abilities and achievement can help an evaluator make informed decisions about the choice of assessment measures, as well as the selection of accommodations and instructional methods (Wendling & Mather, 2018). While this construct is typically measured using cognitive assessment batteries, some neurocognitive tests assessing various executive functions instead might be evaluating the same construct, thereby making it difficult to distinguish between Gf and EF. This differential is particularly crucial due to the recent shift and focus on how and why specific underlying cognitive factors influence academic performance. This paper added to this line of research by evaluating how fluid reasoning may be decomposed into different cognitive and neurocognitive components that might contribute to the prediction of academic performance. Further, it specifically assessed the relationships between these cognitive/neurocognitive factors and academic skills in a clinical SLD population. Results revealed that a cognitive and neurocognitive measure combined to form a latent Gf variate that accounted for a small percentage of variability in SLD prediction using a clinical ADHD group for comparison. Further, the results showed strong positive correlations between a cognitive reasoning task and a mathematical reasoning task, as well a moderately strong relationship between the same cognitive reasoning tasks and a reading comprehension measure. Understanding the critical nature and influence of fluid reasoning within an SLD or clinical population allows the clinicians to target both assessments and interventions better when working with children, specifically in the school setting. Future research can examine whether the combination of cognitive and neurocognitive correlates and academic skills demonstrate better fit with different measures and populations (e.g., typically developing students) as well explore the effects on more specific groups (e.g., SLD in Reading, Mathematics, etc.) for targeted intervention.