Assessing the Efficacy of Cognitive Training on the Mathematics and Science Performance of Minority Students

Principal Investigator: 
Project Overview
Background & Purpose: 

The purpose of this study is to see if direct training of cognitive skills can transfer to mathematics and science performance in samples of minority middle and high school students. The ultimate goal is to increase the pool of these students ready to enter STEM majors in college.

Setting: 

This study will be held in middle and high schools in the Petersburg, Dinwiddie and Chesterfield School Districts in central Virginia.

Research Design: 

The research design for this project is longitudinal and cross-sectional, and is designed to generate evidence which is causal (quasi-experimental and statistical modeling). This project collects original data using school records, assessments of learning/achievement tests, online and paper and pencil self-completion questionnaires, and fMRI imaging.

The instruments or measures used in this study include: The Gibson Cognitive Skills Test, which measures ability in eight cognitive dimensions; Ravens Progressive Matrices, which is a measure of general cognitive ability; The Family Adaptability and Cohesion Evaluation Scales (FACES), which has eight scales that measure dimensions of family cohesion, family satisfaction and family communications; the Patterns of Adaptive Learning Scales (PALS), which assesses personal achievement goal orientations and academic-related perceptions, beliefs and strategies of students; the Fennema-Sherman Mathematics Attitudes Scale, and the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale.

Difference scores on the dependent measures will be analyzed using a 2 (grade) x 3 (condition) Multivariate Analysis of Variance. The three conditions are cognitive training, programming instruction, and control. The relationship of the social/cultural, personality, and attitudinal factors to cognitive skills and mathematical performance will be tested with structural equation modeling.

Findings: 

Project findings will be added as they become available.