Dissertations and Theses @ UNI


Open Access Thesis


Learning disabilities; Sex differences in education;


The present study was designed to assess the utility of specific variables for differentiating LO males and LO females and LO students from RE students. Variables were selected based on previous research findings indicating their utility for differentiating the relevant samples and the availability of pertinent data in existing files. Data regarding the 21 pre-selected variables were obtained for all LO students (50 males and 30 females) and a control group of RE students matched with them by sex, grade, and age. Discriminant Analysis procedures were used to determine the intercorrelated grouping of variables which best differentiated sex within LO placement, LO placement from RE placement, and LD placement from placement for each sex. Results of the current study clearly indicate a preponderance of males within the LO sample. This finding, while consistent with male/female ratios generally reported in the literature, contradicts those of the study that served as an impetus for the present investigation, suggesting that the prior sample may not have been representative of the usual LD population. Factors not accounted for in the current study, teacher practices, teacher expectations, and referral and placement biases, may contribute to the usually found disproportion. Of the 16 variables contributing to the discrimination of males and females within the LO group, nine were associated with "maleness" and seven with "femaleness". Those associated with maleness included SCAT Quantitative, SCAT Total, WISC-R Verbal IQ, STEP Math Computation, STEP Math Concepts, retention, SCAT Verbal, STEP Writing, and STEP Reading. Speech referral; both parents working; reading standard score; one or no natural parents residing in the home; divorced, separa:ed, or divorced and remarried parents; STEP Vocabulary; and health problem/injury were associated with femaleness. Of the 14 variables contributing to the discrimination of LO and RE, five were associated with LO and nine with RE. The variables associated with LD were speech referral; health problem/injury; divorced, separated, or divorced and remarried parents; retention; and one or no natural parents living in the home. All achievement measures were associated with RE, as well as both parents working. The results of analyses by sex suggest that females who receive LO services differ more from RE females than LO males from RE males. Overall males and females in LD are highly similar, with the female manifesting more symptoms of stress and health impairment. The major conclusions of this study were as follows: 1. The efficacy of pre-existing data to predict need for LD placement as suggested by Piwowarski (1981) was again demonstrated. 2. Inclusion of medical, familial, and group achievement and ability data may produce more effective and efficient early identification batteries than batteries relying solely on newly generated test results. 3. Males and females within LD possess similar characteristics-- early health problems/injury, familial stress, low ability and achievement scores, retention, and speech referral. 4. The high risk female is more deviant from RE females than the high risk male is from RE males. 5. An interactionary explanation, with its emphasis on male vulnerability, male slower rate of maturation, societal expectations, and possible biases in the referral and placement process probably best accounts for the preponderance of males in the current study.

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Specialist in Education


Department of Educational Psychology and Foundations

First Advisor

Donald W. Schmits

Second Advisor

Harley E. Erickson

Third Advisor

Lawrence L. Kavich


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