Math Difficulties and Working Memory Growth in English Language Learner Children: Does Bilingual Proficiency Play a Significant Role? Purpose The purpose of this study was to determine those components of working memory (WM) that play a significant role in predicting math growth in children who are English language learners (N = 157) with serious math difficulties (MD). Method A battery of tests was administered in English ... Research Article
Research Article  |   July 05, 2018
Math Difficulties and Working Memory Growth in English Language Learner Children: Does Bilingual Proficiency Play a Significant Role?
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • H. Lee Swanson
    Educational Psychology, College of Education, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque
    Office of Research and Community Engagement, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque
  • Jennifer Kong
    Educational Psychology, College of Education, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque
    Office of Research and Community Engagement, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque
  • Stefania Petcu
    Office of Research and Community Engagement, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque
  • Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.
    Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication. ×
  • Correspondence to H. Lee Swanson: HLswanson@unm.edu
  • Editor-in-Chief: Shelley Gray
    Editor-in-Chief: Shelley Gray×
  • Editor: Ron Gillam
    Editor: Ron Gillam×
  • Publisher Note: This article is part of the Clinical Forum: Working Memory in School-Age Children.
    Publisher Note: This article is part of the Clinical Forum: Working Memory in School-Age Children.×
Article Information
Clinical Forum: Working Memory in School-Age Children / Research Articles
Research Article   |   July 05, 2018
Math Difficulties and Working Memory Growth in English Language Learner Children: Does Bilingual Proficiency Play a Significant Role?
Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, July 2018, Vol. 49, 379-394. doi:10.1044/2018_LSHSS-17-0098
History: Received September 20, 2017 , Revised January 8, 2018 , Accepted March 23, 2018
 
Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, July 2018, Vol. 49, 379-394. doi:10.1044/2018_LSHSS-17-0098
History: Received September 20, 2017; Revised January 8, 2018; Accepted March 23, 2018

Purpose The purpose of this study was to determine those components of working memory (WM) that play a significant role in predicting math growth in children who are English language learners (N = 157) with serious math difficulties (MD).

Method A battery of tests was administered in English and Spanish that assessed computation, reading, vocabulary, inhibition, and components of WM in Grade 1 children with follow-up testing in Grades 2 and 3.

Results The results indicated that growth in the executive component of WM was related to growth in math performance. Proficient bilingual children (proficient in both Spanish and English vocabulary) with MD outperformed less proficient bilingual children with MD on measures of math calculation, fluid intelligence, reading, and Spanish WM at Grade 3.

Conclusion Growth in the executive component of WM is significantly related to growth in math computation, and increased bilingual proficiency across testing waves yielded positive gains in both math and cognitive performance in children with MD.

Acknowledgments
This research is based on a 4-year longitudinal study funded by the U.S. Department of Education, Cognition and Student Learning (USDE R324A090092), Institute of Education Sciences. This earlier foundational work is being extended under a National Science Foundation grant from the Division of Research on Learning (Award number 1660828) awarded to the first author. Special appreciation is given to Melina Melgarejo, Joseph Rios, Elizabeth Arellano, Nicole Garcia, Alfredo Aviles, Steve Gómez, Paula Aisemberg, Valerie Perry, Loren Albeg, Dennis Sisco-Taylor, Wenson Fung, Mike Gerber, Michael Orosco, and school district liaison and consultant Erin Bostick Mason for data collection and/or analysis. This study does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Department of Education, National Science Foundation, or the participating school districts.
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