Evidence for a role of executive functions in learning biology

Sinead M. Rhodes, Josephine N. Booth, Lorna Elise Campbell, Richard A. Blythe, Nial J. Wheate, Mirela Delibegovic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Research examining cognition and science learning has focused on
workingmemory, but evidence implicates a broader set of executive
functions. The current study examined executive functions and
learning of biology in young adolescents. Fifty-six participants,
aged 12–13 years, completed tasks of working memory (Spatial
Working Memory), inhibition (Stop-Signal), attention set-shifting
(ID/ED) and planning (Stockings of Cambridge), from the
Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery. They also
participated in a biology teaching session, practical and assessment
on the topic of DNA designed specifically for the current study
that measured (a) memory for biology facts taught and (b)
understanding of information learned in the practical. Linear
regression analysis revealed that planning ability predicted
performance on the factual assessment, and both spatial working
memory and planning were predictive of performance on the
conceptual assessment. The findings suggest that planning ability
is important in learning biological facts but that a broader set of
executive functions are important for conceptual learning,
highlighting the role of executive functions in understanding and
applying knowledge about what is learned within science teaching.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)67-83
Number of pages17
JournalInfant and Child Development
Volume23
Issue number1
Early online date7 Oct 2013
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2014

Fingerprint

Executive Function
Learning
Teaching
Aptitude
Neuropsychological Tests
Short-Term Memory
Cognition
DNA
Research

Keywords

  • executive function
  • working memory
  • planning
  • science learning
  • biology
  • CANTAB

Cite this

Rhodes, S. M., Booth, J. N., Campbell, L. E., Blythe, R. A., Wheate, N. J., & Delibegovic, M. (2014). Evidence for a role of executive functions in learning biology. Infant and Child Development, 23(1), 67-83. https://doi.org/10.1002/icd.1823

Evidence for a role of executive functions in learning biology. / Rhodes, Sinead M.; Booth, Josephine N.; Campbell, Lorna Elise; Blythe, Richard A.; Wheate, Nial J.; Delibegovic, Mirela.

In: Infant and Child Development, Vol. 23, No. 1, 01.2014, p. 67-83.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Rhodes, SM, Booth, JN, Campbell, LE, Blythe, RA, Wheate, NJ & Delibegovic, M 2014, 'Evidence for a role of executive functions in learning biology', Infant and Child Development, vol. 23, no. 1, pp. 67-83. https://doi.org/10.1002/icd.1823
Rhodes, Sinead M. ; Booth, Josephine N. ; Campbell, Lorna Elise ; Blythe, Richard A. ; Wheate, Nial J. ; Delibegovic, Mirela. / Evidence for a role of executive functions in learning biology. In: Infant and Child Development. 2014 ; Vol. 23, No. 1. pp. 67-83.
@article{a3762251c0324cb19d88485868ffc31a,
title = "Evidence for a role of executive functions in learning biology",
abstract = "Research examining cognition and science learning has focused on workingmemory, but evidence implicates a broader set of executive functions. The current study examined executive functions and learning of biology in young adolescents. Fifty-six participants, aged 12–13 years, completed tasks of working memory (Spatial Working Memory), inhibition (Stop-Signal), attention set-shifting (ID/ED) and planning (Stockings of Cambridge), from the Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery. They also participated in a biology teaching session, practical and assessment on the topic of DNA designed specifically for the current study that measured (a) memory for biology facts taught and (b) understanding of information learned in the practical. Linear regression analysis revealed that planning ability predicted performance on the factual assessment, and both spatial working memory and planning were predictive of performance on the conceptual assessment. The findings suggest that planning ability is important in learning biological facts but that a broader set of executive functions are important for conceptual learning, highlighting the role of executive functions in understanding and applying knowledge about what is learned within science teaching.",
keywords = "executive function, working memory, planning, science learning, biology, CANTAB",
author = "Rhodes, {Sinead M.} and Booth, {Josephine N.} and Campbell, {Lorna Elise} and Blythe, {Richard A.} and Wheate, {Nial J.} and Mirela Delibegovic",
year = "2014",
month = "1",
doi = "10.1002/icd.1823",
language = "English",
volume = "23",
pages = "67--83",
journal = "Infant and Child Development",
issn = "1522-7227",
publisher = "John Wiley and Sons Ltd",
number = "1",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Evidence for a role of executive functions in learning biology

AU - Rhodes, Sinead M.

AU - Booth, Josephine N.

AU - Campbell, Lorna Elise

AU - Blythe, Richard A.

AU - Wheate, Nial J.

AU - Delibegovic, Mirela

PY - 2014/1

Y1 - 2014/1

N2 - Research examining cognition and science learning has focused on workingmemory, but evidence implicates a broader set of executive functions. The current study examined executive functions and learning of biology in young adolescents. Fifty-six participants, aged 12–13 years, completed tasks of working memory (Spatial Working Memory), inhibition (Stop-Signal), attention set-shifting (ID/ED) and planning (Stockings of Cambridge), from the Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery. They also participated in a biology teaching session, practical and assessment on the topic of DNA designed specifically for the current study that measured (a) memory for biology facts taught and (b) understanding of information learned in the practical. Linear regression analysis revealed that planning ability predicted performance on the factual assessment, and both spatial working memory and planning were predictive of performance on the conceptual assessment. The findings suggest that planning ability is important in learning biological facts but that a broader set of executive functions are important for conceptual learning, highlighting the role of executive functions in understanding and applying knowledge about what is learned within science teaching.

AB - Research examining cognition and science learning has focused on workingmemory, but evidence implicates a broader set of executive functions. The current study examined executive functions and learning of biology in young adolescents. Fifty-six participants, aged 12–13 years, completed tasks of working memory (Spatial Working Memory), inhibition (Stop-Signal), attention set-shifting (ID/ED) and planning (Stockings of Cambridge), from the Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery. They also participated in a biology teaching session, practical and assessment on the topic of DNA designed specifically for the current study that measured (a) memory for biology facts taught and (b) understanding of information learned in the practical. Linear regression analysis revealed that planning ability predicted performance on the factual assessment, and both spatial working memory and planning were predictive of performance on the conceptual assessment. The findings suggest that planning ability is important in learning biological facts but that a broader set of executive functions are important for conceptual learning, highlighting the role of executive functions in understanding and applying knowledge about what is learned within science teaching.

KW - executive function

KW - working memory

KW - planning

KW - science learning

KW - biology

KW - CANTAB

U2 - 10.1002/icd.1823

DO - 10.1002/icd.1823

M3 - Article

VL - 23

SP - 67

EP - 83

JO - Infant and Child Development

JF - Infant and Child Development

SN - 1522-7227

IS - 1

ER -