Dissertations and Theses @ UNI


Open Access Thesis


Learning disabilities; Sex differences in education;


The present study assessed the efficacy of specific classes of variables (Intrapersonal, Interpersonal, Extrapersonal) for the explanation of the preponderance of males in learning disabilities placements (LO). Factors were selected which represented a cross-section of variable classes and included behavioral, genetic, and physiological factors. A large number of variables were included to facilitate a relationship between the present study and the many mutually exclusive theories of LO. A significant purpose of the present study was to examine the applicability of specific theories of LO to an actual population. An examination was made of the case histories of a complete population of LO students (45 males and 35 females). Case data from a matched sample of regular education (RE) students was gathered for a control group comparison. Through the use of Discriminant Analysis, an intercorrelated grouping of variables was found which best predicted LO placement for each sex. A separate grouping was produced which accurately discriminated between Learning Disabilities (LO) and Regular Education (RE) subgroups. Of the 18 variables necessary for discriminating males and females within the LO group, 12 had high values associated with "maleness" and 6 had high values associated with "femaleness". Among the high-value predictors associated with "maleness" were !TBS Composite score, age, number of siblings, medical trauma or injury, and evidence of speech and language problems. The highvalue predictors associated with "femaleness" were !TBS Reading and !TBS Language scores, hospitalization at birth, a reconstituted family structure, postnatal problems, and visual problems. Of the 19 variables necessary for discriminating LO from RE subjects, 14 had high values associated with LO and 5 had high values associated with RE. Among the high-value predictors associated with LO were !TBS Math scores, a difficult delivery at birth, medical trauma or injury, a one-year retention in school, a single-parent family, prenatal drugs or smoking, postnatal problems, and number of siblings. The high-value predictors associated with RE with !TBS Language, Writing, and Vocabulary scores; a second retention in school, and the presence of a previous referral to a Child Study Team. The major conclusions were as follows: 1) The efficacy of pre-existing data was demonstrated, especially for demographics, medical history, family history, and group achievement data. This finding has profound implications for the early identification of learning disabilities. 2) Males and females within LO are similar in that both have "masculine" characteristics. The high risk female is therefore more different from females in general than the high risk male is from males in general. This may be the true difference between males and females within an LO population. 3) Since similar effects occur in males and females who are "at risk", bias in placements may explain the preponderance of males in learning disabilities placements. 4) Males may be more generally vulnerable (and thereby more likely to develop a learning disability) and females may be vulnerable only to specific factors. Thus fewer females develop a di s ab i l ity.

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Specialist in Education


Department of Educational Psychology and Foundations

First Advisor

Donald W. Schmits

Second Advisor

John K. Smith


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Date Original


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1 PDF file (115 leaves)



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