Self-regulation Key to Academic Success
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Self-regulation Key to Academic Success

January 3, 2011
Megan McClelland (center), associate professor of human development and family sciences at Oregon State University, a national leader in the area of early childhood development and self-regulation, and the creator of "Head-to-Toes," a task used to measure self-regulation and predict academic achievement. McClelland collaborated on a study that found that self-regulation is key to academic success for at-risk children.

More about this Image Megan McClelland worked with Oregon State University (OSU) then-graduate student Michaella Sektnan on a study in which the key finding showed that at-risk children who can self-regulate--that is, control their behavior and impulses--have higher reading, math and vocabulary achievement.

Sektnan used data on 1,298 children from birth through the first grade, taken from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development's (NICHD) study of Early Child Care and Youth Development. The data defined "family risk" as ethnic minority status, low maternal education, low family income and chronic depressive symptoms in the mother.

Sektnan says, "We know that these risk factors can lead to a gap in academic achievement. The relationship to risks such as poverty, ethnic status and maternal education has been well-documented. What we wanted to know was, controlling for these factors, does self-regulation make a difference?"< br /> Indeed, the answer is yes. Controlling for these risk factors, Sektnan found that children whose parents and teachers reported that they had strong self-regulation in preschool and kindergarten did significantly better on math, reading and vocabulary at the end of first grade.

Sektnan found that in all instances, higher self-regulation was related to higher reading, math and vocabulary, regardless of which risk factor was present, building on the knowledge base that development of self-regulation skills in young children is necessary.

To read more about this study, see the OSU news story, "Self-regulation key to academic success for at-risk children." [Research supported by National Science Foundation grant 0111754.] (Date of Image: April 2010)

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