Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Preschool children who can pay attention more likely to finish college: Early reading and math not predictive of college completion

Date:
August 6, 2012
Source:
Oregon State University
Summary:
Young children who are able to pay attention and persist on a task have a 50 percent greater chance of completing college, according to a new study. Surprisingly, achievement in reading and math did not significantly predict whether or not the students completed college. And the good news for parents and educators, the researchers said, is that attention and persistence skills are malleable and can be taught.

Young children who are able to pay attention and persist with a task have a 50 percent greater chance of completing college, according to a new study at Oregon State University. Tracking a group of 430 preschool-age children, the study gives compelling evidence that social and behavioral skills, such as paying attention, following directions and completing a task may be even more crucial than academic abilities.
Credit: Monkey Business / Fotolia

Young children who are able to pay attention and persist with a task have a 50 percent greater chance of completing college, according to a new study at Oregon State University.

Tracking a group of 430 preschool-age children, the study gives compelling evidence that social and behavioral skills, such as paying attention, following directions and completing a task may be even more crucial than academic abilities.

And the good news for parents and educators, the researchers said, is that attention and persistence skills are malleable and can be taught.

The results were just published online in Early Childhood Research Quarterly.

"There is a big push now to teach children early academic skills at the preschool level," said Megan McClelland, an OSU early child development researcher and lead author of the study. "Our study shows that the biggest predictor of college completion wasn't math or reading skills, but whether or not they were able to pay attention and finish tasks at age 4."

Parents of preschool children were asked to rate their children on items such as "plays with a single toy for long periods of time" or "child gives up easily when difficulties are encountered." Reading and math skills were assessed at age 7 using standardized assessments. At age 21, the same group was tested again for reading and math skills.

Surprisingly, achievement in reading and math did not significantly predict whether or not the students completed college. Instead, researchers found that children who were rated higher by their parents on attention span and persistence at age 4 had nearly 50 percent greater odds of getting a bachelor's degree by age 25.

McClelland, who is a nationally-recognized expert in child development, said college completion has been shown in numerous studies to lead to higher wages and better job stability. She said the earlier that educators and parents can intervene, the more likely a child can succeed academically.

"We didn't look at how well they did in college or at grade point average," McClelland said. "The important factor was being able to focus and persist. Someone can be brilliant, but that doesn't necessarily mean they can focus when they need to and finish a task or job."

McClelland, who is also a core director in OSU's Hallie E. Ford Center for Healthy Children and Families, said interventions aimed at increasing young children's self-control abilities have repeatedly shown to help boost "self-regulation," or a child's ability to listen, pay attention, follow through on a task and remember instructions.

In a past study, McClelland found that simple, active classroom games such as Simon Says and Red Light/Green Light have been effective tools for increasing both literacy and self-regulation skills.

"Academic ability carries you a long way, but these other skills are also important," McClelland said. "Increasingly, we see that the ability to listen, pay attention, and complete important tasks is crucial for success later in life."

OSU's Alan Acock, along with Andrea Piccinin of the University of Victoria and Sally Ann Rhea and Michael Stallings of the University of Colorado, contributed to this study, which was funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and a Colorado Adoption Project grant.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Oregon State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Megan M. McClelland, Alan C. Acock, Andrea Piccinin, Sally Ann Rhea, Michael C. Stallings. Relations between preschool attention span-persistence and age 25 educational outcomes. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 2012; DOI: 10.1016/j.ecresq.2012.07.008

Cite This Page:

Oregon State University. "Preschool children who can pay attention more likely to finish college: Early reading and math not predictive of college completion." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 August 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120806151405.htm>.
Oregon State University. (2012, August 6). Preschool children who can pay attention more likely to finish college: Early reading and math not predictive of college completion. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120806151405.htm
Oregon State University. "Preschool children who can pay attention more likely to finish college: Early reading and math not predictive of college completion." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120806151405.htm (accessed October 1, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Pregnancy Spacing Could Have Big Impact On Autism Risks

Pregnancy Spacing Could Have Big Impact On Autism Risks

Newsy (Oct. 1, 2014) A new study says children born less than one year and more than five years after a sibling can have an increased risk for autism. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Stopping School Violence

Stopping School Violence

Ivanhoe (Oct. 1, 2014) A trauma doctor steps out of the hospital and into the classroom to teach kids how to calmly solve conflicts, avoiding a trip to the ER. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Pineal Cysts: Debilitating Pain

Pineal Cysts: Debilitating Pain

Ivanhoe (Oct. 1, 2014) A tiny cyst in the brain that can cause debilitating symptoms like chronic headaches and insomnia, and the doctor who performs the delicate surgery to remove them. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Burning Away Brain Tumors

Burning Away Brain Tumors

Ivanhoe (Oct. 1, 2014) Doctors are 'cooking' brain tumors. Hear how this new laser-heat procedure cuts down on recovery time. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins