Dissertations and Theses @ UNI


Open Access Thesis


Cognition in children; Learning disabilities;


The purpose of this study was to examine the educational implications of subdividing learning disabled children into cognitive ability groups according to a method proposed by Richman (1979b). A set of. unstandardized discriminant function coefficients were used to weight Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC) subtest scores. Richman proposed that three cognitive ability groups could then be derived from these coefficients: an Abstract Reasoning group, a Sequencing-memory group, and a General Language Disability group. Richman had developed this procedure through the investigation of a group of children who met a WISC criterion of Verbal Scale +15 ≤ Performance Scale ≥ 90.

To investigate this issue, a group of 176 children in public schools who had been identified as learning disabled and had received remediation in a learning disability resource room were selected. Also identified were two subgroups. The first (n = 50) met the WISC criterion used by Richman. The second (n = 108) met a criterion of an achievement score at least 15 standard score points below Full Scale IQ.

First, the unstandardized discriminant function coefficients were used-to categorize the learning disabled samples into cognitive ability groups. Secondly, the relationship between cognitive ability classification and word recognition was evaluated by assessing frequency distributions of Wide Range Achievement Test (WRAT) Reading subtest scores to cognitive ability classifications. Third, factor analysis of the WISC subtests for the three learning disabled groups was carried out and the factor structures for these groups compared to the factor structure of the Richman group.

For the three learning disabled groups categorization into the three cognitive ability subgroups was carried out. The percentage of children who fell into the Abstract Reasoning group for all three learning disability groups was less than for the Richman group and the percentage of children who fell into the General Language Disability group was greater than for the Richman group. Since the Abstract Reasoning group was the group for which the most educational implications were suggested and the General Language Disability group the group for which the least educational implications were suggested, the noted differences in frequencies would limit the use and effectiveness of this classification method with learning disabled groups.

The distribution of WRAT Reading scores among cognitive ability groups indicated that the Abstract Reasoning group tended to be the best readers. The Sequencing-memory group read less well and the General Language Disability group read the poorest. These findings were similar to those of the Richman group. However, the categorization method resulted in groupings across which WISC Full Scale IQs were found to be significantly different (p < .05). It would appear that this difference in Full Scale IQ would account for at least part of the relationship between reading disability and cognitive ability groups. Therefore, any inferences made between cognitive ability groups and reading ability would be inconclusive.

The factor structures obtained for the three learning disabled groups were not similar to the factor structure of the Richman group. Since the cognitive ability classifications suggested by Richman were based on the obtained factor structure of the group evaluated by Richman, categorization of learning disabled children who do not demonstrate a similar factor structure becomes suspect.

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Specialist in Education


Department of Educational Psychology, Foundations, and Leadership Studies


Department of Educational Psychology and Foundations

First Advisor

Barry J. Wilson


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Date Original


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