Predicting mathematical school achievement by precursors of mathematics, executive functions, and motor skills

Gashaj, Venera; Oberer, Nicole; Mast, Fred W.; Roebers, Claudia (11 July 2016). Predicting mathematical school achievement by precursors of mathematics, executive functions, and motor skills (Unpublished). In: 24th biennial meeting of the International Society for the Study of Behavioural Development ISSBD2016. Vilnius, Lithuania. 10.07.-14.07.2016.

A correlation between cognitive and motor development was assumed early by Gesell`s maturation theory. It said that physical, motor, and cognitive development are primarily determined by biological predispositions. Piaget`s cognitive development theory, however assumed that a child’s motor skills allow the child to explore and understand the world, this means that brain structures are differentiated and therefore allow more abstract cognitive processes. It is assumed that the relationship between motor skills and cognition is driven by executive functions; in a three-year longitudinal study the fine motor skills were a strong predictor of academic performance, but especially for mathematics. This prediction was mediated by executive functions. One approach, which associates gross motor skills mathematical skills is Embodied Cognition; it is dominated by the assumption that similar brain structures (prefrontal cortex, cerebellum) are activated when a motor or cognitive task is solved. Therefore the combination of two actions (motor and cognitive) leads to the best performance. The aim of our study was to find out about the relations between the constructs as well as to describe different predictors of mathematics achievement in school children.
In a longitudinal approach we tested 165 children first in Kindergarten and later in 2nd grade. We assessed fine and gross motor skills (M-ABC and KTK), executive functions, nonverbal IQ, precursors of mathematics in Kindergarten, and school achievement in the areas of mathematics (HRT 1-4), reading and writing (SLS, WLLP) in 2nd grade.
Our findings suggest that executive functions are a strong predictor for mathematics achievement in 2nd grade, however unique amounts of variance over and above executive functioning were explained by precursors of mathematics in Kindergarten. An important finding was also that gross and fine motor skills still were predictive for certain mathematical skills in 2nd grade, such as magnitude comparison.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Poster)


07 Faculty of Human Sciences > Institute of Psychology > Developmental Psychology
07 Faculty of Human Sciences > Institute of Psychology > Cognitive Psychology, Perception and Methodology

Graduate School:

Swiss Graduate School for Cognition, Learning and Memory (SGS-CLM)

UniBE Contributor:

Gashaj, Venera; Oberer, Nicole; Mast, Fred and Roebers, Claudia


100 Philosophy > 150 Psychology




Venera Gashaj

Date Deposited:

21 Jun 2017 10:24

Last Modified:

19 Oct 2021 12:21


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