The difficulties children with ADHD experience solving applied math problems (i.e., word problems) are well documented; however, the independent and/or interactive contribution of cognitive processes underlying these difficulties is not fully understood and warrant scrutiny. The current study examines two primary cognitive processes integral to children's ability to solve applied math problems: working memory (WM) and math calculation ability (i.e., the ability to utilize specific facts, skills, or processes related to basic math operations stored in long-term memory). Thirty-six boys with ADHD-combined presentation and 33 typically developing (TD) boys aged 8-12 years old were administered multiple counterbalanced tasks to assess upper (central executive [CE]) and lower level (phonological [PH STM] and visuospatial [VS STM] short-term memory) WM processes, and standardized measures of mathematical abilities. Bias-corrected, bootstrapped mediation analyses revealed that CE ability fully mediated between-group differences in applied problem solving whereas math calculation ability partially mediated the relation. Neither PH STM nor VS STM was a significant mediator. When modeled together via serial mediation analysis, CE in tandem with math calculation ability fully mediated the relation, explained 79% of the variance, and provided a more parsimonious explication of ADHD-related deficits in applied math ability. Results suggest that interventions designed to address applied math difficulties in children with ADHD will likely benefit from targeting basic knowledge of math facts and skills while simultaneously promoting the active interplay among these skills and CE processes.
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Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
College of Sciences
Psychology; Clinical Psychology
Length of Campus-only Access
Doctoral Dissertation (Campus-only Access)
Friedman, Lauren, "Applied Problem Solving in Children with ADHD: The Mediating Roles of Working Memory and Mathematical Calculation" (2017). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 5457.