THE CONTRIBUTION OF SELECTED BIOLOGICAL, ENVIRONMENTAL AND BEHAVIORAL VARIABLES TO SUCCESS IN EARLY LEARNING

AMY LYNN KARLEN, Fordham University

Abstract

Low socioeconomic status has been regarded as a significant antecedant to learning disabilities. This study explored the relationship between selected biological, environmental and behavioral variables and success in early learning.^ Participants in the study were 106 low income, minority preschoolers who attended public day care centers in an inner city area. Children were given the Preschool Screening System, a test designed to evaluate the learning skills of young children. On the basis of their scores on this test, the youngsters were divided into two groups, those experiencing early learning success and those vulnerable to learning failure. A step-wise discriminant function analysis was performed to determine the extent to which group membership could be predicted from the independent variables. Six of the ten variables explored accounted for 45% of the variance and correctly classified 82% of the children.^ Behavioral competence was a key contributor to the early learning success of low income children. Youngsters who were independent, active and curious fared best educationally. Unexpectedly, it was not the aggressive youngsters who were most vulnerable to learning failure, but those who were withdrawn and apathetic.^ Qualitative measures of the home environment were more powerful in group discrimination than traditional social status variables. Children who experienced early learning success came from homes in which their parents were more responsive to them and who were better able to organize the environment. Maternal education and number of children in the family, had a small but significant role in group discrimination. Children experiencing early learning success came from families slightly larger in size and had parents who were better educated than those of youngsters vulnerable to learning failure. Marital status of the parents was not useful in discriminating groups.^ The biological variables used in this study did not differentiate between groups. Although previous studies of low income groups have revealed a high incidence of teenage pregnancies and low birth weight infants, children in both groups in this study were generally of average birthweight and born to mother's in their mid-twenties. The significance of the findings was discussed in terms of models for identification of high risk children and planning intervention programs for low income youngsters. (Abstract shortened with permission of author.) ^

Subject Area

Educational psychology

Recommended Citation

KARLEN, AMY LYNN, "THE CONTRIBUTION OF SELECTED BIOLOGICAL, ENVIRONMENTAL AND BEHAVIORAL VARIABLES TO SUCCESS IN EARLY LEARNING" (1986). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8624486.
http://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI8624486

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